When meeting with your accountant this tax season, don't be surprised if he or she tries to sell you on a new benefit-
program or other service.
Reason: As many as 75 percent of local and regional accounting firms (the ones that most typically work with small businesses like yours) say they're planning to offer new services beyond their bread-and-butter tax services, according to a study by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. That includes services such as:
• Elder care services for caregivers, including bill-paying, submitting insurance forms, providing income and gift-tax planning and managing property.
• Personal financial planning, including investment risk and return analysis and personal estate planning.
• Litigation support, including expert testimony, second-opinion consultations and interpreting financial data for juries.
Advice: If yours is a very small business with few employees, it's worthwhile to look into the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of using your accountant's one-stop business services' shop.
But if you operate a larger organization with 100 or more workers, be more skeptical. Compare pricing and options from existing providers or from small business associations and other groups that can better compete for such services.
Make sure the CPA has relevant education and certification needed to provide the service. Ask for evidence of experience, resources and any service partners. Inquire whether this will be a temporary service or a long-term reliable offering.