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Questions to ask when choosing a Tax Practitioner or Accounting Officer / Accountant

(Adapted from Microsoft's 10 Questions to ask when choosing an Accountant)

  1. Is the practitioner registered and qualified?

Look for credentials like ‘SAIBR’ or ‘CA’ or 'MTP' and for qualifications like ‘Hons B.Com’ or ‘H Dip Tax’. From the end of June 2005, all Tax Practitioners who complete tax returns for payment must be registered with SARS. Is your accountant's board recognized by other countries? 

Our Answer : Registered Business Accountant with the Southern African Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBR) - Registration Number SAIBR87, The Institute also enjoys recognition by the Namibian Government; Hons B.Com Accounting; Master Tax Practitioner member of The South African Institute of Tax Practitioners (SAIT), Registered Tax Practitioner in terms of Section 67A of the Income Tax Act - Registration number PR-01119B5.

  1. How many partners are there?

As a rule, choose a practice comparable in size to your business. If you’re a small business, choose a small practice. They’ll be more empathetic, cheaper and be familiar with your problems,’ says Clive Lewis, head of SME issues at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. But think ahead: if you plan rapid growth a bigger practice might be better.

Our Answer : We’ve got one partner. We are small enough to care, but also big enough to handle the medium size enterprise. 

  1. Who are the practice’s other clients?

It can be helpful if your accountant has experience of businesses of your size, in your sector or operating in your market.

Our Answer : We have clients in various industries, e.g. Packaging, Labour Hire, Engineering, Property Development, Fast Food, Attorneys, Florists, Telecommunications, Retail, Property Management, IT, Construction, Entertainment, Jewellers, Transportation etc.

  1. Who will look after your business on a daily basis?

A good rapport with your accountant is vital. ‘You might only meet a partner once a year – so you need to find out who you will deal with most of the time and see how you get on with them,’ says Nick Winters, partner responsible for growing businesses at accountants and business advisers PKF.

Our Answer : We prefer to deal with our clients directly and not leave it to a clerk. Every client is unique and as a partner, we can make adjustments as necessary while the client does not need to wait for a clerk to get approval before a decision can be taken or an adjustment made.

  1. Does the practitioner understand you?

Your practitioner is likely to become a long-term business associate. For the relationship to work, they need to show an interest in where your business is now and where it is heading.

Our Answer : It is our motto to know on a regular basis what is going on in our client’s business and advise our client rather too early than too late about necessary corrective measures .

  1. How effectively does the practice work?

Ask for estimated response times. How long does it take to speak with a partner? Will the practice contact you with, for example, news about tax changes?

Our Answer : Unless we are in consultation with a client or at a client’s premises, we can help you within a few minutes otherwise we phone you back the same day. We do contact all our clients and update them with applicable changes to legislation which have an immediate and drastic effect on their businesses, but do not contact them with legislative changes like a change in the official interest rate.

  1. What additional services does the practice offer?

You might be able to take advantage of services such as information-systems advice or personal-finance guidance.

Our Answer : We have extensive experience in 1) the IT industry with the implementation of various packages like Pastel Accounting and Solomon Software, a Microsoft ERP product, 2) Business Consulting and Business Process Re-engineering, 3) Accounting, and are registered as Business Accountant with the Southern African Institute of Business Accountants.

  1. Does it have any specialities?

If your business is a start-up, deals internationally, is planning a stock-market listing or has other special needs, ensure the practice has the necessary expertise.

Our Answer : We specialise in South African Tax including Income Tax, VAT, PAYE, CGT, etc.

  1. How does the practice charge?

Hourly fees are most common but a fixed fee for the first 12 months can often be arranged.

Our Answer : Most of our fees are hourly based, but we do offer for the monthly client a fixed monthly fee for a fixed monthly set of work. We do not charge fees that are a percentage of performance e.g. turnover based, etc.

  1. Can you speak to other clients?

A practitioner should be happy to put you in touch with other customers.

Our Answer : We are quite happy to give you the contact details of other clients, provided that the other client/(s) approves.





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