7 Reasons to fire your dental practice CPA today.
Updated: Mar 25
We currently work with more than 100 CPA's here at Bookkeeping for Dentists. Unfortunately, it's very rare to come by a dental practice CPA that does all seven of the following items as they should. But there are a handful, okay maybe... 4ish that I've worked with, who have been awesome with this list. The ones who fail to follow the below list are the ones that make my blood boil.
Let me start off by saying this: I can’t stress to you the importance that your tax return be done correctly. Your business and personal tax returns are probably the single most significant financial document in your life. It not only determines that giant tax bill every year, but, if you were to try and get a loan, add a partner, sell the practice, or purchase a dental practice, then that tax return is how you do it and it is final, paid for, and furnished to the government as an official document into your whole life.
But I do understand how difficult it is for dentists to know if their dental tax returns are being done correctly or if their dental practice CPA is dropping the ball. That’s why I created this list of 7 signs your CPA needs to be fired.
Side note: although I may say “CPA” this post also refers to registered tax preparers and accountants who aren’t certified professional accountants (CPA). Not everyone who does taxes is a CPA. I recommend you get a REAL licensed CPA though.
1. Your Dental Practice CPA Doesn't ask for Details
There is no way, and I mean NO WAY, that any CPA or tax preparer can do your dental practice's tax return correctly without first reviewing the transaction details in all accounts on the books. If they don't ask you for a general ledger, a copy of the QuickBooks file or an invite into QuickBooks Online, then they don't care what you pay in taxes, and they are going to slap those Profit & Loss totals right on the tax return without any consideration for errors or missed deductions.
This is the very first sign that your dental practice CPA is dropping the ball. This one thing is the #1 reason to fire your CPA today... like right now, seriously. Do it. I mean it.
2. Your Dental Practice CPA Doesn't check year-end Bank Statements
This kind of goes along with #1, asking for details. Your dental practice CPA needs to see your December bank, credit card, and loan statements because they have to check that the amounts on the books reconcile with the numbers on the bank statements. It tells them if everything is there or if maybe there were errors on the books during the year. It's important. It's also essential because S Corps file balance sheets with their tax return and your bank balances are on the balance sheet, so it should be matching reconciliation records. If they aren't asking for your December statements, then they don't care about mistakes that could increase tax liabilities or flag the IRS for an audit. Even if you have an awesome dental bookkeeper, like me :) , your CPA should still be checking.
Real life example:
I had a new client ask us to take the bookkeeping from the CPA because they were a little slow with keeping it updated. When we started to clean up the books, the loan balance on the books for December in the prior year didn't match what the balance was on the bank statement. So after a lot of trouble getting the CPA firm to provide us with a copy of the tax return to check, we found $30,000 was missing in interest expense for that loan. A 30k deduction on the tax return made a ginormous reduction for the tax liability. Needless to say, the CPA amended the tax return to include the 30k interest expense they missed. Come on man, that's bad and should have never happened.
3. Your Dental Practice CPA encourages year-end spending to reduce taxes
This one might not be a significant reason to fire your CPA, but it implies they aren't thinking about the success of your dental practice. If your dental practice CPA is telling you to purchase more equipment or loads of inventory to reduce your taxes at the end of the year, then you'll be reducing cash and probably picking up interest with equipment loans. Now that's just silly. You know it's not dollar for dollar right? So you'll be spending more than you're reducing taxes, a lot more. Only spend when you need to. Don't do it in a last stitch effort to reduce taxes and definitely don't start racking up balances on credit cards or taking out loans just to minimize taxes.
The goal is to keep overhead costs super low and profit super high, which means taking more home in the long-term. Let your CPA come up with new tax strategies without spending all your cash and taking out loans. That's the best CPA; not one who tells you to spend more.
4. Your Dental Practice CPA doesn't provide documents when requested
When you or your bookkeeper ask your CPA for copies of tax returns or payroll reports, your dental practice CPA should send it immediately. If they give you excuses like your bookkeeper doesn't need payroll reports, that is just baloney! Same goes for tax returns. If they ignore the requests, that's even worse. I've come across this a few times, and it always makes me wonder what they are hiding. The CPA I spoke about in item #2 above that missed 30k interest deduction - that is one that wouldn't give me documents when requested, and we had to get mean with them so I could get the tax returns to figure out what they did wrong.
5. Your Dental Practice CPA doesn't create adjusting journal entries
If your CPA doesn't create adjusting journal entries for the bookkeeping when they complete the tax return, then it says one of two things:
1. Your tax preparer has no idea what he is doing because he doesn't know how to get the right numbers for adjustments to make on the books to match the tax return.
2. Your tax preparer doesn't care if your records match theirs which means they are not doing things properly and your books will never be 100% correct. Your tax return probably won't be correct either.
Either way, you need to dump them and get someone who keeps the books updated with the tax return numbers (adjusting journal entries).
6. Your Dental Practice CPA doesn't make suggestions for improvements
Some of you may not think this one matters enough to fire your dental practice CPA, but I believe everyone needs a proactive CPA for 3 reasons.
If your CPA is not giving you good advice to reduce taxes strategically, then you could be missing out on deductions. My guess is, if they aren't giving you the secret sauce, then they don't actually have any. Find a better CPA. (Although if you have an outstanding CPA, they have probably given you a lot of good advice already so don't expect secret sauce all the time.)
If your CPA isn't proactive, then it also tells you he doesn't care how well he does things. Being proactive is not just about having good tax strategies, it's about wanting to do a good job and being helpful to your client (you).
Another reason you need a proactive CPA is that you could be doing many things wrong if you're doing the bookkeeping yourself, then your CPA spends significant time cleaning up your mess and charging you for it. Your CPA needs to tell you what's up so you can save money. I was told by a dentist that his dental CPA firm thought his bookkeeping was very organized even though it was in Quicken. Wait what?... Quicken? That's not even business accounting software, it's meant for personal accounting. You can't print a proper Balance Sheet out of it. So his CPA is telling him its fine when it's not and the CPA is spending a lot of time in clean-up to prepare the tax return. That dental CPA should have told his client to make the change from Quicken to QuickBooks, immediately.
Proactive CPA's are a must in my book.
7. Your Dental Practice CPA will make things more complicated than it should be
Last, but not least, dental practice CPA's that make things way more complicated than it should be are creating a lot of trouble for you and more in fees.
For example: trust story here - there is a Dental CPA firm that takes your numbers from QuickBooks and then puts them into their own in-house bookkeeping software to create financial reports that you can very easily get out of QuickBooks with the push of a button. They do this every single month. That is making things way more complicated than it needs to be. This in-house bookkeeping software they use is directly integrated with their tax preparation software (which they only need once a year) so although they think it's making things easier for them (once a year), it's actually the dumbest, most incompetent thing I've ever seen a CPA firm do. I have worked in CPA firms preparing taxes, I know how it all works. This particular method causes sooo much more time for both the CPA and the dentist, along with sky-high fees because someone has to pay for that extra time. But it's how it has always been done, so they keep doing it. Where the heck is the logic in that? There is none.
A CPA firm that provides bookkeeping or payroll services are usually the slowest to adapt to changing times and better technology. They are still using QuickBooks Desktop, manually entering every transaction and bugging you for statements each month. Does that sound familiar? Or they are doing payroll in QuickBooks Desktop or some old school payroll software while asking you for a spreadsheet of hours and manually paying payroll taxes and filing payroll tax returns. Guys, payroll services, REAL payroll services, do all of this electronically in the background. Stop with the spreadsheets and use an online time clock system that integrates with payroll so you don't have all of this middle man stuff happening. It just works seamlessly like magic in the background.
CPA's are notoriously old school, and they take forever to adapt to better, more streamlined processes. They are scared of change or don't have an innovative mind to implement it, and it hurts you in the end. Don't stick with a CPA that makes everything more complicated than it needs to be.
This list of reasons to fire your CPA is gold. Don't forget it when you are working with your CPA this tax season. If your CPA is doing something that doesn't seem right or closely relates to one of the issues above, then start asking questions and shop around. It won't hurt you. In fact, it's just plain smart.
Thank you for reading!
Sona Wegner, MBA