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You're Using Your CPA Wrong - Rehmann

If you're limiting your CPA to "only" filing your taxes, you're overlooking a host of services that could make a significant impact on your personal and professional life.

Stop missing out: Review the following list of four essential services your CPA can provide today. When you finish reading, it might just be time to schedule an appointment.

1) Starting a business
Approximately 543,000 new businesses start each month. Don't let that number overwhelm you, though: An even greater number of them close. Maybe you're doing the math in your head and deciding you don't like those odds. Then consider this: A quarter of new employer firms stay in business 15 years or more. Odds sounding a little better?

If they are  and you've been thinking about starting a business of your own  your CPA is a great place to start. Forget that your CPA can act as an informed and experienced sounding board, likely having worked with many small businesses in the course of her career. He can also help develop policies and procedures such as revenue/expense recognition and equity and compensation, as well as conduct your first-time audit. In addition, your CPA can strategically plan your state and local tax approach, which can bring tax savings and efficiencies to your organization.

Structuring your business is also an important aspect of getting started as each one is treated very differently for tax purposes. Let your CPA help you choose the entity that's the best fit for you.

2) Finding capital
A key aspect of starting a business, or growing one, is identifying sources of capital. Fortunately, there are an assortment of growth funding options available, including crowdfunding (think Kickstarter and Indiegogo, options you've undoubtedly come across online), angel investors and venture capitalists. But each option carries its own set of specific rules and regulations  enter your CPA, who can help walk you through the pros and cons to each, and make you aware of any rules or regulations. If you choose a more traditional route and look for lending from a bank or credit union, your CPA can help you work through the lending process.

3) Estate planning
Whether or not your idea germinates into a living, breathing (and revenue-generating) new business, you'll still likely have estate planning matters to sort out. What's the best way to establish your legacy? What's the best way to provide for your heirs ... and avoid related tax-based pitfalls? What amount, and sorts, of assets do you want to leave them? Speak with your CPA about determining the value of your estate, how your assets are titled and what beneficiary designations may have already been made. She can guide you through the process and help identify qualified financial planners necessary to complete the process efficiently and according to your wishes.

4) Managing life events
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale has long been used as a tool to help quantify how much stress an individual faces based on recent life events. From "death of spouse" to "minor violation of the law," over 40 notable stressors are listed. It should come as no surprise, given the important role income plays in our lives, that a CPA can help address situations either caused by, or contributing to, such stressors. A sample list: changes in marital status (from the aforementioned death of a spouse to a divorce or separation), a moderate-to-large loan and change in work status (e.g., trouble with the boss, changing to a new role or career, getting fired, retiring). These life events will always be stressful, but regularly working with your CPA will help ensure that your financial life is in order  allowing you to devote more time and effort to other important aspects of your life during such times.

Ready to start having more in-depth conversations with your CPA? Place a call today. There's no telling how many solutions you might discover.

About the Author
Andrew Mehl is a principal and director of tax for the east region at Rehmann. He can be reached at andrew.mehl@rehmann.com.

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