How does one go about choosing a Competent CPA?
Well, you have asked what we term in the industry a very difficult question! However, there is no substitute for "EXPERIENCE". For a complex tax return, the first thing I would want;
1. Is a CPA who has been in private practice for more than a good 5 years!
2. Has the necessary experience to handle your particular issue.. Ask him if he is comfortable handling the issue and whether or not he has done a tax return with a similar problem?
3. Verify his CPA credentials, usually this would posted somewhere in office.
4. Ask him if he takes any continuing education classes and whether he merely meets the required hours dictated by the State he is practicing in or does he exceed the minimum hours required by the State. This will give you a clue whether or not he is attempting to excel in his field.
5. Ask him if his clients ever get audited, and find out what percentage? A very low percentage (l< 2%) means the CPA has a very conservative approach. A very high percentage ( >10%) means the CPA is very aggressive, stay CLEAR of very aggressive CPA's.
6. Try and get referrals from other Friends and Family Members.