When you’re passionate about what you do as an entrepreneur, there’s truly no better way to make a living. But, let’s be honest, when you picture your accountant, “passionate” is probably not the first word that comes to mind.
Unless that is, your CPA happens to be Shauna A. Wekherlien, CPA, MTax, CTC, CTS (AKA “the Tax Goddess”). Shauna is a highly sought-after tax strategist with a reputation built on 20+ years of experience and a team of professionals, 62 strong. In her more than two decades of creating strategic tax coaching plans for clients, she has landed in the top 1% of tax strategists in the country.
Of course, Shauna didn’t always want to be a tax expert. Her initial dream was to be an astrophysicist. That is until she met one… Once she realized tax strategy combined her love of numbers with the critical thinking she also enjoyed, her passion was ignited.
Shauna is passionate about helping entrepreneurs like you keep more of your money. “You may have found a really great accountant, but the odds are good that they don’t offer strategic planning. They simply take the documents you provide to them at the end of the year, run the numbers, and hand you your tax bill,” says Shauna.
Of course, a good accountant will point out deductions you may have missed and mistakes you can avoid for next year. But they won’t dig into every detail of your life and businesses to find you every last penny. That’s what Shauna and her team of tax strategists do at Tax Goddess.
All of this means, if you’re serious about protecting your wealth as an entrepreneur, you’ll want to find a Certified Tax Strategist (CTS). Yes, a good tax strategist can save you millions over the life of your business, but how do you find the right one? Here are five questions Shauna suggests you ask before hiring a tax strategist.
1. How many times have you worked with the IRS on behalf of a client and how many times did you win the battle?
“Of course, you hope you never have to face the IRS, but the truth is you have a 7% chance of being randomly selected for an audit,” says Shauna. So while everything your tax strategist does is designed to help you avoid a run-in with the IRS, even if you do everything right, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll never have to go through an audit. Consequently, you need to know whether your tax strategist will truly have your back if you get audited.
“If your tax strategist has never represented a client in this capacity, this is a red flag. It likely demonstrates a lack of experience and it may mean that you’ll have to hire additional help in the event of an audit,” warns Shauna. Also, do keep in mind that once you’ve been audited, the odds of being audited a second time, go up. So this is a critical question to ask.
2. What are your areas of specialization?
Knowing that someone is a Certified Tax Strategist (CTS) or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) doesn’t tell you much about their area of expertise because all financial professionals choose specialities. For example, some CPAs are auditing specialists, while others are tax specialists. Some are internal bookkeepers working with global organizations, while others are CFOs of small or medium-sized companies
“At Tax Goddess, we have three primary areas of specialization: real estate, crypto, and service-based businesses. On the real estate side, we work with entrepreneurs that run the gambit from home flipping, commercial and land space to real estate professionals like agents, brokers, general contractors, electricians, and plumbers,” says Shauna. “We’ve helped sell crypto millionaires $120MM portfolios with $0 in tax and helped digital nomads, startup founders, and other online business owners save money on their taxes year after year.”
3. What is your communication style?
This question is important to ask not only your tax strategist but also every other professional team member, contractor, or employee you work with. If, for instance, you prefer to communicate via email and text message, but someone else prefers to handle business over the phone, this can cause a lot of friction.
Also, if you prefer to use and share digital records, make sure your tax strategist has systems in place to make this easy for you. By the way, Tax Goddess is 100% digital. “Our clients really appreciate the convenience of skipping that paper trail,” says Shauna.
4. Who will be doing the work?
Both CPAs and tax strategists work according to a wide variety of business models. Some firms have thousands of accountants, while your CPA may be a one-person shop. Asking this question ensures that you know who will be helping guide you and plan for you, as well as who will review your documents and coach you through the strategy they develop for you.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recommend here,” says Shauna. “It all depends on the type of relationship you want with your tax strategist.” During the busy tax season, if your accountant works alone, you may not be able to get them on the phone — and heaven forbid something happens to them!
Where does your work stand with no team support? With a mid-sized, all-digital, global team that is cross-trained and hired for their expertise and skill set, you can be confident you have an integrated team that is always there to step in, assist, and provide guidance when the need arises.
According to Shauna, another advantage of working with a team is that multiple pairs of eyes will be on your documents to make sure you haven’t missed anything important (“With seven levels of review at Tax Goddess, you KNOW that not a single penny is left on the table!”). Your comfort level with those doing the actual work is what matters most.
5. Do you work with multiple entities?
Finally, you’ll want to gauge your professionals’ abilities to serve an entrepreneur with several businesses. “Now, you may not think of yourself as having multiple businesses,” says Shauna.
“But if, say, you have an operating company in an LLC, you own the building where your office is located, and you own a rental property, technically, you have three businesses.” So you’ll want to make sure your tax strategist knows how to handle different types of entities (e.g., Inc., LLC, S-Corp) and how to integrate the 3 for the best tax benefits.
With multiple entities, it’s critical for your CPA to double-check and cross-check the various puzzle pieces. For example, if you rent office space from yourself because you are also the landlord, is your CPA taking both sides of the equation into consideration? (If not, you need a strategist!)
The Bottom Line
Entrepreneurs who are passionate about their work and serious about protecting their wealth, know that they need a tax strategist on their team of professionals. The above questions will help you find your match.
And if Tax Goddess sounds like a match for you, Shauna’s team will dig into your details and create a customized strategic tax coaching plan for you. They save their clients an average of $37,602 per year on their taxes. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see what sets Shauna A. Wekherlien and the team at Tax Goddess apart from other CPAs.