What Goes Wrong Between Bookkeepers and CPAs

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Now that we are through tax season, I have some thoughts about bookkeeper interactions with their client’s CPAs/tax preparers.

This alliance is a natural partnership, as we work for the same client and have interconnected roles. However, I find myself wishing that more CPAs worked in collaboration with their client’s bookkeepers.

I often run across CPA firms who just want to burn and churn a tax return, and are unresponsive to bookkeeper’s questions. I can only assume the reason is to keep costs down, but in my opinion, this does not best serve their client’s needs.

What Kinds of Questions Do Bookkeepers Have for CPAs? 

Here are some typical interactions I may have with a CPA/CPA firm/tax preparer, and some of the less than stellar responses I have encountered:

1. Are the books Cash or Accrual?

When I ask my clients, they often don’t know, and they don’t provide me copies of their tax returns. So I have to ask the CPA.

The answer to this question is particularly important if I have inherited a QuickBooks (QB) file for which cleanup needs to be done to the Accounts Payable and/or Accounts Receivable reports.

If I need to clear out years-old uncollectible invoices, the method I use will differ if the books are Cash vs. Accrual, as Cash books cannot have Bad Debt Expense, while Accrual books can. For one client’s file, they have invoices with small open balances, many of which are over five years old.

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About Jody Linick

Jody Linick

Jody Linick, an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper, QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisor and member of the Intuit Trainer/Write Network, heads up FitBooksPro which specializes in helping professional services providers set business goals, and using the tools available in QuickBooks Online, to manage performance tracking of goal achievement.




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Apr 27th 2018 02:02

Jody, you have illuminated an issue I am facing on an increasing level as my clientele grows. For business management and analysis, the books must be accurate, regardless of whether it impacts the cash reporting for tax filing. Thank you for the article.

Thanks (2)
Apr 27th 2018 08:33

All the points mentioned in this article are very good. You have highlighted some of the major issues between bookkeepers and cpas

Thanks (2)
Apr 28th 2018 07:29

This is one awesome blog article. Really thank you! Looking forward to reading more.

Thanks (1)
Apr 30th 2018 19:17

As a CPA who loves bookeeping (and who doesn't do tax stuffs) I kept nodding my head all the way through this one--having run into nearly every one of those situations (or similar ones) with some of my clients' CPAs.

Of course, the major cause is that most CPAs loathe bookkeeping and aren't really interested in our "practical, tactical, day-to-day issues" that we need answered, nor are they trained to collaborate on them.


Thanks (2)
Jun 20th 2018 15:56

I'd just add for the CPA to work directly with the bookkeeper/accountant that handles the financials all year. I have two CPA's that have never in 4 and 6 years (2 different clients) replied to any emails or returned any phone calls to me. They waste my time and my clients time by asking the client questions and of course using "accountant's speak" which just confuses the client who then have to ask me anyway.

Thanks (0)
By orange
Aug 23rd 2018 15:29

Great article. So true!
Unfortunately, there is a value in spending time meeting with these people, face-to-face. Going out of your way to build a relationship with these CPA(S) and their various representatives helps a lot. Calling them and emails mean little to people who are against time lines and performance deadlines.
In the CPA world - from my experience with CPA's - it is a flurry of churn and burn employees who are newer, and the older ones don't waste time with 'relationships' they can put off - they do not see a benefit to it in their daily performance measurements.

I have worked along side a few CPAs who are greatly happy to working with bookkeepers, and they answer my calls, emails and texts. But there are rules there - I need to be concise and I need to give them numeric points outlined in those emails. For the younger CPAs, I can only ask ONE question per email. They are easily overwhelmed.

Thanks (1)