I'm assuming that you're asking about US taxes. I've owned a tax accounting firm for over 30 years.
Actually, there isn't all that much that's "special" about your business - tax-wise, that is. With very few exceptions, the same tax laws, deductions and methods apply to all businesses. There are no special laws or tricks which apply to a web dev business.
The important things are:
1. The accountant is experienced in dealing with small businesses. Small businesses, in general, present their own, unique tax problems and opportunities.
2. The accountant understand the types of costs your incur. This can vary widely between types of businesses. But, frankly, this is a give and take situation for any business. No matter how long you've been dealing with a certain type of business, you can find someone with an innovative way of spending money. The point is, although you should expect your accountant to understand the costs you incur, it is also up to you to ask questions or bring up any items the accountant doesn't.
3. The accountant understand your sources of income. Similar to #2, but less variation. This is still a give and take area - always ask questions.
I've listed these in order of importance, with #1 being, far and away, the most important.
No accountant worth having will ever be annoyed or frustrated with questions about your business ie: "Hey can I deduct .... ?". Even if it's not deductible, it helps the accountant understand the way you run your business. He wants to understand, it makes his job easier.
Your accountant should be accessible. You don't want someone who does this part-time, 3 months a year. Understand that most accountants will have shorter hours off season than they do during tax season, but they should still be around.
There is a fine-line between being too aggressive as an accountant and properly advising clients on the "tricks". Unfortunately, it's difficult for you to know. Similarly, there are many accountants who are too passive in representing their clients. This can come down to a gut feeling on your part, but when in doubt, ask.
It never hurts to ask for references, but keep in mind, the references you'll get will be the accountant's happiest clients.
Last edited by PappaJohn; 06-06-2007 at 07:58 AM..
Reason: a couple more points