When it comes to tax and accounting services in the United States, many corporate clients are asking the question: Am I with the right firm? After all, last year was the first tax season under the Trump Administration tax overhaul – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That brought pitfalls and opportunities. And now there are major competing tax proposals from the Democratic presidential candidates. Frontrunner Joe Biden has a plan to raise the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent, backstopped with a 15 percent minimum tax and a 21 percent rate on foreign profits. Do the advisors you’re working with understand the new tax law and how to implement it? Do they understand where the law might be heading depending on the 2020 election?
This year, Forbes has partnered with market research company Statista to create a list of the most recommended firms for tax and accounting services in the U.S. The 227 firms identified include the biggest firms in the country and some of the smallest. They’re all tackling the complexities of the ever-changing tax laws head on. Most are full-service, offering tax and accounting. Some were recommended for both services; 202 were recommended for tax; 115 were recommended for accounting. Of course, recommendations are just a starting point. When picking the right firm, it’s not just a matter of whether they bring the sophistication you need, but also whether they give you the level of attention you want, all at a fair price.
Click here for the full list of America’s Top Recommended Tax And Accounting Firms.
The Big 4—Deloitte, PwC, EY and KPMG—with U.S. headquarters in New York City, are the dominate players with 32% market share (the majority of their revenue comes from audit work). But did you know there are nearly 92,000 accounting services firms, most with fewer than 10 workers? The industry has grown steadily over the last five years, buoyed by economic growth, rising equity markets and an increasing number of new businesses, and it’s expected to grow at an annualized rate of 0.8% to reach $118 billion by 2024, with 70% of revenue from high-value corporate clients, according to IBIS World.
There’s a lot of depth beyond the Big 4. Take Andersen—the private client services practice from defunct Arthur Andersen that launched as WTAS in 2002, adopted the name AndersenTax in 2014, and rebranded as Andersen this year to reflect its ambitious global tax and legal practice growth strategy. “We stay in major metro markets at the high-end of the food chain,” says CEO Mark Vorsatz. In its home base of St. Louis, Missouri, RubinBrown has more CPAs (205) than any of the Big 4. Seattle, Washington-based Moss Adams, founded in 1913, is the incumbent powerhouse there.
Sometimes the right fit is small. Headquartered in South Burlington, Vermont, tiny Gallagher, Flynn & Co., with just 60 professionals, boasts of its small firm personality and big firm capabilities. Behind the scenes, its professionals have access to the resources of heavyweight and list member RSM US through the RSM US Alliance, an affiliation of independent accounting and consulting firms.
Meanwhile, the trend is that firms keep getting bigger as the industry is steadily consolidating. The latest big merger news: Denver-based EKS&H joined listee Southfield, Michigan-based Plante Moran last year to create the 11th largest accounting, tax and consulting firm. Note consulting is in the mix. A lot of these firms are expanding the scope of their services. Ancillary advisory and consulting services are driving growth.
What else should you be asking of your tax and accounting firm? Check on staff credentials, how they’re using emerging technologies, and how they’re managing privacy and security risks. These are all top issues facing firms, along with keeping up with the changes and complexities of tax law, according to the AICPA.
Certain areas in the tax field – like cost segregation work — are ripe because of the 2017 tax changes. A cost segregation study can help you identify property that qualifies for an immediate 100% deduction. Accelerating deductions, reducing taxes and increasing cash flow. That’s the type of conversation you want to be having with your tax advisor. So, call them up, and if you don’t like the response, shop around.
To create the list of America’s Best Tax & Accounting Firms, the market research company Statista considered 1,800 survey responses from CPAs, enrolled agents, tax lawyers, accountants and CFOs between August 12 and September 13, 2019. Survey participants who worked for a tax or accounting firm could name up to 10 firms for tax and 10 firms for accounting that they would recommend if their company were not able to take on a client. Survey participants who worked in a company on the client side were asked to name up to 10 firms each in tax and accounting that they would recommend based on their professional experience during the last three years. The firms that received the most recommendations were included on the list. Self-recommendations were not considered. The final list consists of 227 firms, with 202 recommended for tax services and 115 recommended for accounting services.
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