“Should Ask” Questions

In order to help educate our customers, we have compiled a list of what we call “should ask questions”–i.e., questions that people should ask us or any other accountant they work with. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you make more informed decisions about your finances and which accountant you choose to help you manage them.

What are the most common tax deductions that are missed by small businesses?

Many business owners neglect to deduct the use of a personal vehicle for business purposes, expenses related to a home office or storage in the home, and the use of telecommunications equipment like personal cell phones for a business.  Also, it is not uncommon for a small business owner to purchase equipment for a business using a personal credit or debit card and then neglect to write that off as a business expense.  These oversights can result in a business paying more taxes than they should.

How do you protect my personal information?

We take our client’s privacy very seriously.  We protect your personal information from both physical and digital theft through a security system on our building, firewalls on our computer network, and shredding of all documents before they are disposed of. 

What is the most common mistake business owners make when setting up their accounting system?

A very common mistake is that a business will not set up their chart of accounts properly.  This can result in an inaccurate picture of a business’s true financial situation and cash flow.  This could cause the business to pay either more or less in taxes than they should, and also make important business decisions based on bad information. 

Can I write off the value of my professional time as a charitable contribution?

No—only out-of-pocket expenses can be deducted as a charitable contribution.

Has your firm had a recent peer review, and if so what was the outcome?

CPAs in Virginia are required to have a peer review once every three years, and the results of that review are available to the public through the American Institute of CPAs.  You can see the outcome of the most recent peer review for the Benjamin H Johnson CPA firm at www.peerreview.aicpa.org. We would not recommend working with a CPA that did not pass a peer review.

Are you affiliated with any professional organizations for CPAs?

We are members of the Virginia Society of CPAs and the American Institute of CPAs.  Membership in these organizations gives us access to a variety of resources that help us when we encounter complex problems.  We would not recommend working with a CPA that is not a member of at least one of these organizations.

How do you stay up to date on changes to tax laws?

In order to maintain his status as a CPA, Ben is required to complete the 40 hours of continuing education every year.  This is how we stay up-to-date on recent changes to the tax code that affect our clients and other important developments in our industry.