- Fractional CFO
My tax situation is not overly complicated, I just don’t want to do it anymore, can you help me?
Of course! No matter how simple or complex your tax situation is, we can help. Many of our clients engage with us simply because they don’t have the time or comfort level to do their taxes on their own. That is what a CPA is for after all!
Is it important to find someone local to do my taxes?
When clients say, “I want someone local,” that often means they want someone that understands their unique state and local tax issues OR they have really only received the full attention of their CPA in face-to-face meetings. Dark Horse has hired a diverse range of CPAs that have worked with every state in the USA and a variety of complex issues, ensuring that we can service clients from ANYWHERE in the USA. Additionally, we’re extremely confident that our cloud-based service delivery model will result in you receiving a much higher level of attention throughout the year from your Dark Horse CPA than you got from your previous tax professional.
I need help with my personal taxes, as well as my business taxes, can you do both?
Yes, we can! In 99% of cases, they go hand-in-hand. We want to ensure our tax strategies work for both you AND your business, so having us engaged on both levels is a critical step to ensure we are maximizing your tax savings each tax year.
Is there a meaningful difference between a CPA, an EA (Enrolled Agent) and unlicensed preparers?
Absolutely. While anyone with enough experience, training, ethics and intelligence can be competent to prepare your tax return, it is more likely that an EA or unlicensed tax preparer will be lacking in one or more of these areas. As CPAs, we are held to the highest professional standards, as well as education and experience requirements. Having said that, Dark Horse is differentiated among CPA firms through our proprietary service delivery model that has earned us a Net Promotor Score of 90% versus the industry average of 38%.
I haven’t filed tax returns for a few years. Can you help?
Absolutely! We’ll get all of those overdue tax returns filed for you and we’ll work with the IRS and state tax authorities on your behalf to reduce any penalties to the maximum extent allowable.
I received a letter from the IRS or state informing me that my tax return is being audited. Can you help?
Of course! We provide unparalleled tax audit representation that will result in you getting the most favorable outcome possible. Furthermore, we deal directly with the IRS or state on your behalf so you don’t have to worry about being put on the spot and disclosing information that will harm you. Think of us like an attorney representing you before the IRS or state.
Can I drop my files off at your office?
The short answer is no. The long answer is that we’re able to keep our prices extremely competitive with a much higher value proposition by working in a cloud-based environment. We’ll ask that you upload your documents to our secure client portal as this creates indispensable efficiencies in preparing your tax returns, as well as the fact that you will remain the custodian of those documents for peace of mind. We can help you figure out how to digitize those documents, even if you don’t have a scanner. Last, all of your tax documents and tax returns will be saved in the secure portal, allowing for easy access in the future.
Do I need to come into your office to sign documents?
Not at all! Our entire process can be done in the comfort of your home. Any document that we will need you to sign can be electronically signed. All documents (tax documents, tax returns, engagement letters, IRS correspondence, etc.) are saved to your secure portal, accessible at any time.
I tend to forget what exactly happened on previous years’ tax returns…do you provide a tax return review meeting to go over the current tax return and how it compares to previous years?
Yes, we do! We have a couple options based on your preference. We can provide you a review via email, a video recording of your CPA walking through your return, or a 1-to-1 meeting.
I’m not confident that last year’s tax return was done correctly or that I left deductions on the table. Will you review those tax returns to address these doubts?
Of course. That’s part of our onboarding process with new clients. We’ll let you know if there are any red flags or missed opportunities on those returns. If necessary, we can amend previous tax returns to make sure those issue or opportunities are taken care of.
How much do you charge?
Prices range based on the scope of the engagement. We do offer a unique price quote tool on our website found here to give you an idea. Generally, it’s based on your income/deduction sources, how many states you need to file in, and if there are any unique situations with your return. If you are curious, you can always request a quote from us here.
Do you prepare returns in-person like the brick and mortar tax prep firms?
No, we do not. The reason is that the tax returns we prepare for clients have too much at stake to do all in one-sitting. We prepare your returns thoughtfully, review them for quality and accuracy and then evaluate them strategically to make sure you're getting the best result possible. It's impractical (and impossible) to try to do this while you're sitting across from us. Also, you've got better things to do than sit around while we prepare the returns anyway.
I just started my business so there’s not a lot going on just yet. Do I need a bookkeeper?
Absolutely! Initial bookkeeping setup, bookkeeping flow, and strategic goal setting/business consultations are ideal for all small businesses, but especially for startups unfamiliar with the routines of backend accounting processes. It is always best to start off on the right foot if you are planning to truly build your legacy and reach your targeted goals as fast as possible.
Should my books be done on the cash basis or accrual basis of accounting?
Most businesses will at least need to have cash basis bookkeeping for tax reporting purposes. For simpler businesses, this may be all you need. For businesses that have a bit more going on, you’d be well advised to also keep your books on the accrual basis of accounting in combination with cash basis books (you can keep your books on both accounting methods to be able to see either with the click of a button). Accrual accounting allows for you to better match revenue and expenses so that you can gain deeper insight into profitability and your true performance during a given period of time. It is also the foundation of being able to do forecasting, proformas, profitability analyses and other fractional CFO-type services. If your business is an accrual basis taxpayer (we can help you figure that out), then you’ll absolutely need accrual basis bookkeeping.
I have a bookkeeper that costs me very little, what is the value of going with Dark Horse?
The reason a bookkeeper’s pricing would be relatively cheap is that they’re doing the lowest level of bookkeeping...cash basis bookkeeping where they shove revenues and expenses in generic accounts. Often, they have taken on a lot of clients to be able to pay the bills which causes your bookkeeping to be done well after-the-fact, leaving you with books that have stale numbers that don’t give you needed insight into your business. Dark Horse CPAs know accounting (not just how to use QuickBooks Online), so they’ll be able to provide you with financial statements that display meaningful information on your margins and profitability on your revenue streams, locations, etc. You’ll receive this information timely and we can grow with you to help you dive deeper into the numbers to create strategic operational plans. Read a bit more about the Dark Horse difference here.
What is the ideal frequency for accurate bookkeeping?
We recommend monthly bookkeeping as a best practice. However, in certain situations where transactions are very limited (such as during the initial year of a start-up) we can conduct quarterly or annual bookkeeping services. For most businesses, we prefer to avoid year-end/annual bookkeeping. The reasoning is there is typically a lot of clean up and a lot of questions that need to be answered in a timely manner to be ready for tax filings. Plus, there might have been opportunities for additional tax planning and savings throughout the year that could have been missed or overlooked if we are only looking at your books after the year closes.
I have extremely complex bookkeeping needs with a large number of transactions each month. Should I be outsourcing or hiring in-house?
As with any major function of your business, you’ll need to assess your ability to lead and manage any internal staff to ensure a successful outcome. Many business owners aren’t equipped to do this in the area of accounting, and thus make less-than-ideal hires, and aren’t able to set their accountants up for success. Alternatively, by hiring a Dark Horse CPA, you’ll be paying a fraction of the cost since we can provide our services in a much more efficient manner than most in-house accountants thus eliminating the salary and benefits of a full-time accountant. Also, you won’t have to manage us as we’ll partner with you to deploy solutions that have been highly effective with clients in similar industries and situations as yours. For certain businesses, it may not be an either/or approach. You may need to have in-house accounting staff supplemented by a Dark Horse Fractional CFO. Either way, we’ll let you know what we believe to be the best approach for your business.
What is a Fractional CFO?
Fractional CFOs provide the highest level of strategic advisory for business clients. They help businesses where they need help the most, which can range from cash flow management to forecasting to budget creation & reporting to providing investors financial reporting and everything in between. They are your dedicated finance resource to support the growth and strategy of your enterprise. As the name implies, they are your company’s CFO at a fraction of the cost of a full-time hire.
Which industries do you specialize in?
Take a look at the industries we serve here.
Do you do proforma projections and financial forecasting?
Yes, we help our clients with financial modeling & forecasting which includes proformas, budgets, and cash flow forecasts. Beyond that, we’ll work with you to build a growth plan to achieve (and hopefully beat) these projections.
Do you help manage and optimize cash flow?
Absolutely. Cash flow is one area that businesses tend to struggle the most. We’ll help you project cash flows based on current operations, plan for any needed cash infusions into the business, and create strategic plans to increase cash inflows and decrease or delay cash outflows.
Do you prepare annual budgets?
Yes! Any financial reporting you need, chances are that we can provide it.
How do you determine which Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to report on?
There are certain KPIs that are relevant to all businesses within a given industry. So, we’ll start there and then gain an understanding of what’s unique about your business, where you’re struggling, and where you are excelling to help formulate the balance of the KPIs you need to track for your business. Beyond that, we can help you tie these KPIs to your financial forecasts to help determine if you’re on track to meet the overall financial goals of the business.
Which deliverables are typically included in a Fractional CFO engagement?
Forecasts, budgets, budget-to-actual, KPI dashboards, product/service margin & profitability analyses to name a few. The real magic comes from the conversations that result from these deliverables to help inform your strategic plan.
How often will you meet with us?
As often as you need! Our engagements range based on how involved you need us to be.
Will you come to our office or are all meetings virtual?
Most of our meetings will be virtual/remote. However, in certain circumstances your Fractional CFO will be able to attend important meetings that are determined prior to engagement.