8 Key Questions + Answers to Consider Before Hiring a Tax Accountant in Singapore


Are you looking to hire a tax accountant in Singapore?

Once you make that decision to have your taxes handled by a professional, you not only need to look for one who will help you have a clean record with the IRAS, but also one who is well-versed with the ins and outs of all types of taxes including but not limited to:

During your search, seal out the thought that tax accountants must be good at crunching numbers. A good accountant is more than that as they will help you communicate the implications of the numbers in layman’s terms.

Below are 10 key questions that will enrich your decision as you go about interviewing potential candidates to fill the position of a tax accountant in your business.

1.   Who are your typical clients?

You should ask this question from the get go because it helps you understand the whether the tax accountant has in-depth understanding of your business type.

A real estate business may have to follow a specific criteria of reporting, for example stamp duty and income tax at different percentage rates, while a restaurant may follow specific rule when dealing with wages and tips regarding contract workers.

Typical answer: The most qualified tax accountant must have vast experience working with similar businesses in your industry so that you avoid incurring extra costs and time to train them once hired.

2.   Are you accessible all year round?

In Singapore, the calendar year ends on December 31st of every year, and the annual tax form must be submitted by 15th April and filed electronically by 18th April of the following year. This means that by 18th April, the IRAS shuts its door and slaps all defaulters with fines or penalties.

For example, if you fail to file your income tax 60 days after the deadline, you will incur a 5% late payment penalty. If it remains unpaid after that, you will incur an additional 1% penalty every month for the next 12 months until the tax season.

As a small business owner, you need a tax accountant to help you avoid such penalties because they can cripple your finances in the long-run.

Typical Answer: To avoid waiting until the next tax season, the tax accountant must be accessible all-year round to help you address all tax issues.


3.   What is your experience with the IRAS?

In most cases, many business owners rush into hiring a certified public accountant (CPA) instead of an enrolled agent (EA) simply because the latter has more certifications. While CPAs are thoroughly trained in bookkeeping and financial planning, EAs have more in-depth skills and experience handling taxes.

The icing on the cake is that many EAs in Singapore have once worked as IRAS agents, which gives them far-reaching tax filing and auditing experience in various industries, along with intrinsic knowledge of how the tax oversight authority works.

Typical Answer: Instead of prioritising their certification, assess the tax accountant’s experience and their relevance to your business.


4.   Who directly handles the tax filing?

Many lead accountants in a company usually outsource tax filing duties work to third parties, especially when they are overwhelmed. You need to ask beforehand how they will handle your tax filing duties to ensure that they are straightforward about it.

This does not mean that their services are substandard. Just knowing that your taxes are being handled by a third party helps you find ways of addressing any anomalies because you will be unable to address the issue in terms of timelines and costs.

Typical Answer: Go for a tax accountant that assures you that they directly handle the tax filing.

5.   Are you an aggressive or a conservative tax accountant?

Aggressive accountants may have the tendency of thoroughly focussing on specifics, while the conservative ones may take a more conservative tactic when handling taxes.

If a tax accountants responds that they are keen in spotting red flags that could elicit audits, their tactic may not be ideal in maximising your deductions.

Typical Answer: Either way, hire an accountant who matches your philosophy.

6.   How do you want to get paid?

A number of tax accountants in Singapore prefer to bill their clients by the hour, while others go for a flat monthly rate. It is advisable to hire a tax accountant who bills you by the hours because filing taxes is not a day-to-day duty that requires continuous work.

Irrespective of the billing approach that the accountant prefers, it is important to estimate their fees over a period of one calendar year. Share with them a copy of your tax returns for the past year before they give you a quote.

Typical Answer: Hire an accountant who matches your budget.

7.   Do you work with multiple entities?

If a tax accountant tick all the boxes, and you have more than one business that you need their taxes filed, you need to pose this question to understand how they can handle them simultaneously. This is a rare skill even among the most educated accountants.

For example, if you have a procurement firm as an LLC, and also a clearing and forwarding company registered as a C-corporation, the accountant should have the knack of coordinating finances between those entities.

Typical Answer: Hire an accountant who has experience handling more than one company for the same person.

8.   What tax software are you currently using?

While it is not a big deal, the tax software used by an accountant tells a lot about their level of expertise. Those who don’t use any tax software should be ignored from the get go because their services are likely to prone to errors when calculating taxes, verifying personal information, filing form, etc.

Asking about their most preferred tax software also allows you to assess their experience. For example, small business mainly use QuickBooks; growing business mainly use Xero, and big companies use Oracle Tax Reporting Cloud.

While hiring a tax accountant who uses more obscure tax software will not affect the quality of the work, switching to a better one could be tricky.

Typical Answer: Hire an accountant who is well-versed with the most popular and effective tax software in your industry.

How Can We Help?

At Tianlong Services, we are guided by systematic approaches that are built into corporate tax computation software to perform these tax calculations.

We adopt standard formats and formulas to compute all kinds of taxes in Singapore as per IRAS standards. This results in substantial cost savings, and improved profits for your business.

Email us on [email protected] or call us using +65 8809 9315 for free consultation.

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