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Considering a new accountant?

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  • Considering a new accountant?

    Currently a medical resident but will be graduating soon. My tax returns have been relatively uncomplicated thus far and I've always used my family's CPA who has done a fine job with the preparation. He has always been good at answering my questions (especially after I've done my own reading on a topic) and prepared my returns in a timely fashion and seems very knowledgeable. However, he rarely offers additional suggestions throughout the year to help reduce my overall tax burden. Maybe that was because I had an uncomplicated return being a resident (with spouse/child) or maybe that's just the way he operates.

    Other than the WCI blog, I've starting reading the Wealthy Accountant blog as well (, who also happens to be Mr Money Mustache's accountant. He frequently puts out several posts about other legal ways to take advantage of the tax code (beyond the basic retirement accounts, HSA, etc...) and suggests that accountants should be helping their clients throughout the year by making suggestions. I know my returns will likely get more complicated after I become an attending (more income, possible partnership/consulting/real estate, etc...) and am entertaining the idea of whether it makes sense to get other opinions. I also reached out to the wealthy accountant directly to see if he takes consultations but I'm guessing someone in high demand will likely charge a few hundred dollars even for the consultation fee and may have limited contact during tax season due to demand. I'm not opposed to reasonable pay for good advice but just curious on getting some thoughts from those who have more experience than I do. I already do a decent amount of tax reading on my own (but have no desire at this point to do my own preparation though) but just wondering when it makes sense to look for a new accountant and the best avenues to do so. Thanks!

  • #2
    Read the IRS code. Then do it yourself...It really is not that complicated. Let us know what TWA says too.


    • #3
      If you like your current accountant and feel that he is competent to do more complicated issues, why don't you just ask him what it would take to have a quarterly check-in, which could easily be by phone - he would probably just raise your yearly in-person tax prep fee a bit.

      I am on my 4th accountant:  the 1st overcharged me right out of residency - I felt purely b/c I was a Dr, the 2nd was my fav but retired and he just threw in quite a few personal finance pointers at the yearly appt, the 3rd was a total mismatch on personalities, and the 4th is OK but shirks giving me any "extra" advice b/c I have now gone to an investment manager a few years but would like to drop that one and be more like a Boglehead.

      So I feel like I pay the accountant generously for not as much advice as in the past.  The current one is a senior partner and I am just a small fish at this point, but I will probably stay with him since he knows my stuff well.



      • #4
        I would consider retaining this person, unless he/she is on the verge of retirement.  First and foremost you trust him, which is no small feat. Second, you acknowledge that 1. your returns to this point are not complicated, b. he is knowledgeable, and c. gets your stuff done in a timely manner.

        The crux of your thinking revolves around; 'I in the near future will have additional tax needs that my existing accountant may or may not be able to handle'. I would recommend approaching the issue like a good patient/doctor relationship (you are the patient).  You have a problem, and you have one or more potential 'solutions', because you have done some type of research/google.  As a patient you are going to doctor (accountant) to a. have the expert in the field verify the problem (it maybe a completely different problem) and b. recommend a solution(s) that is based on your situation.

        My point is that you as the patient should have some knowledge of the topic to ask good questions, yet have an open mind to both the problem and potential solutions put forth by the accountant.  Be a good patient; open to the expert's diagnosis/recommendation.


        • #5
          We use TurboTax. Maybe we're missing things, I don't think so. Perhaps next year I'll do both and see how things go. Maybe I'll even learn something new!