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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between certified public accountants (CPAs) and accountants?
A CPA has demonstrated professional competence by passing a rigorous examination and meeting high standards of education. In addition, they must meet strict continuing education requirements, undergo peer review, and adhere to a stringent set of ethical standards.
How do I know if I can do my own taxes or if I need to consult a certified public accountant?
The IRS estimates that it can take more than 28 hours to research tax law, organize your records, and complete a standard 1040 return with three common schedules. Tax law is constantly changing, so it is important that you are educated about these changes so you correctly fill out your forms. Being technologically savvy is also important as tax preparation software can help eliminate errors, both mathematical and technical. If you’re not comfortable with using this type of software, Gelinas & Pratte is here to help.
Should I consult a CPA if I am starting a new business?
It is imperative that you contact a CPA. You will need to discuss the organization of your company for tax purposes as well as numerous other issues relating to operations, not the least of which will be setting your target pricing and gross profit margins. Don’t wait until the year-end to have this discussion. You could be making decisions without the proper advice, and that could wind up hurting you financially or legally.
Are there things I should consider before I talk to you about being my CPA?

Yes. The more you understand about your needs, the better job we can do together of matching our services to those needs. Your first step is to decide what you want from us. Call us first, but prior to meeting with us, you should review your present and future financial goals and needs. Some general questions you should ask yourself might be:

  • Will you need help with personal financial issues, individual or corporate tax returns, retirement, estate, or college planning? Are you seeking investment help?
  • Do you need financial statements prepared for your business? Must those statements be audited or reviewed? Will you need special financial reports for government agencies?
  • How comfortable are you in your own ability (or in the case of a business, your staff’s ability) to handle financial and operational details. Do you want to do as much as possible in-house, or are you considering out-sourcing some of your bookkeeping, accounting, or CFO functions?
  • Do you need help preparing a business plan or a personal or business loan application?
  • Will your business need other services such as technology planning, strategic planning, process consulting, or costs analysis?
What are pass through entities?

The concept of “pass through entity’s attribution” stems from the fact that this entity’s ownership can be attributed to another entity. The IRS Code prescribes that pass through entities’ income belongs to that other entity. Pass through entity earns the income, but is not responsible to pay the tax related to this income. In effect, the pass through entity’s income and related tax liability passes through to the entity having ownership. Examples are estates, LLCs, partnerships, S Corporations and trusts.

What is an estate plan?

An estate plan is a written document that outlines the disposal of one’s estate and includes such things as a will, trust, power of attorney, and a living will. An estate plan is critical for the family and the business because without it, you will pay higher estate taxes than necessary, allocating less of the estate to your heirs. The estate plan should be used in conjunction with the succession plan to see that the family business is transferred in a tax effective manner.

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