What is the Difference between a CPA vs. an Accountant vs. a Tax Service?

Filed in CPA Blog by on January 8, 2013
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January 8, 2013

CPA, Tax Service, Accountant – Do names matter?

Most San Francisco Bay Area businesses are aware of how important it is to keep track of all their financial records.  Bills sent out, payments made by clients on their accounts, operational funds, and many other budget points have to be accounted for on a daily or near-daily basis.  If neglected, these records will give you an inaccurate picture of your organization’s actual financial state.  Close attention has to be given to your accounts if you’re going to stay fully informed of financial activity.

Who Takes Care of Your Finances? A CPA? Tax Service? San Francisco Bookkeeper?

CPA Firm vs. Accountant in San Francisco

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Small- and medium-sized businesses are typically staffed by employees tasked with doing a variety of jobs.  Small family businesses in particular demand that employees be very versatile and ready to take on many types of tasks over the course of a single day.  These businesses may not have a full-time accountant on a regular basis.  Instead they have to delegate accountancy tasks to several different employees.

 

From the outset, this may seem like a reasonable way to manage a business’s bookkeeping.  Once put into practice, the flaws in this option quickly become evident.  A team of loosely affiliated employees will not communicate effectively regarding the bookkeeping they’ve done; records aren’t always promptly entered into books or possibly not entered at all.  Temporary and part-time employees can have even more difficulty working on accounting tasks; tasks may be repeated unnecessary because there is no clear distribution of tasks or leadership of the financial team.  All this confusion and the sporadic attention given to your organization’s vital financial records makes the job of annual tax preparation harder than it has to be.  The accountant you bring on to prepare your taxes each year won’t be able to do their job correctly.

 

Necessary Experience – the CPA difference

It’s obvious that an organization’s bookkeeping has to be done by at least one full-time employee who has experience managing diverse types of financial records.  Ideally, a financial department can be assembled that includes people working on accounts received, accounts payable, payroll, and tax records.

It’s OK to have an employee or bookkeeper do the work, but it works best under the supervision of a trained CPA Firm. A CPA or accountant can do far more if you work with them throughout the year, vs. a one-time tax service or a bookkeeper that doesn’t understand tax. This is nowhere more true than in San Francisco.

 

Evaluating the prior experience of this financial team is an absolute must.  There are an increasing number of accountancy courses being offered through colleges, universities, and learning centers across the country.  This has greatly increased the number of employees with a formal education in accountancy math, but each employer must decide for themselves whether they’re looking for someone with a degree or with experience.  Both are valuable in different ways.  Someone who has recently earned a degree will be aware of the most current financial trends and how to manage the risks associated with the contemporary market.  On the other hand, someone with many years of experience in the workplace can contribute the kind of valuable insight that’s only gained through active participation in the financial field.

 

The Best of Both Worlds – a CPA Firm that Works with Your Company or Bookkeeper

So does a title or experience make the difference?  There’s no cut and dred answer to this perennial question.  An applicant’s merits must be decided on a case by case basis before they’re invited to join your organization.  In the meantime, you can’t afford to be without experienced financial services.

 

To solve this dilemma, many businesses choose to take their bookkeeping tasks to a CPA firm.  The people working in these firms have a solid educational background, extensive industry experience, and the attention to customer service that’s a necessary part of the client relationship. The CPA firms in San Francisco are among the best in the country and the one you choose to partner with will become a valuable member of your team.

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