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December 18, 2023 | read

Traditional CPA vs. Virtual CPA: Which is Right for You?

Thomas Castelli

If you’re in the market for a new CPA firm, you have more options today than ever before. The choice is no longer limited to established firms in your city––you can now work with a firm located anywhere. And in many cases, you’ll find there are significant benefits to be had. 

As technology has evolved, more and more virtual CPA firms have popped up. Some established firms have launched hybrid options, enabling clients to connect with high-quality professionals regardless of their location. 

But while there are many benefits to working with a virtual CPA, it’s not the best fit for everyone. There are some situations where it might make sense to stick with a traditional CPA firm. 

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of working with both traditional CPAs and virtual CPAs. Read on to learn more about how each type of practice works and discover which represents the best fit for your accounting needs. 

Working With a Traditional CPA Firm

A traditional CPA firm is typically focused on a specific local market. These firms almost always tend to be generalists––accounting firms that work with a variety of individuals on different tax matters. Often, you’ll find many of these firms primarily focus on filing tax returns. 

Many traditional CPA firms have a well-established local presence in their cities. They’re typically small family-run firms with just a few qualified accountants. 

Advantages of Working With a Traditional CPA Firm

One reason many people work with their local CPA firm is familiarity. If your CPA has filed your taxes for the last ten or fifteen years, you might see little reason to switch. You probably have a good relationship with the firm and they’re at least somewhat familiar with your financial situation. 

Traditional CPA firms tend to be generalists: most of their business is driven by run-of-the-mill tax returns. If you need more specialized tax support, a traditional firm may be able to refer you to a more specialized firm. Think of these firms as your primary care doctor: they’re fine for everyday matters but when you need specialized advice they’ll refer you to a specialist. 

Another benefit to partnering with a traditional CPA firm is that these firms tend to have strong knowledge of the tax code in your state. That’s particularly important if you live in a state with high state taxes, like New Jersey, New York, or California. 

Disadvantages of Working With a Traditional CPA Firm 

We’ve already noted that the majority of traditional CPA firms are generalists. That means that if you’re looking to leverage advanced tax strategies, it’s unlikely these firms have the knowledge you need. Many small towns simply don’t have enough real estate investors to sustain a specialized tax firm, like a real estate tax firm

If you’re a real estate investor that works with a local firm, you’re probably only one of a few clients with that financial situation. Your accountant simply won’t be aware of advanced tax strategies that could save you thousands of dollars. Many traditional firms don’t even offer long-term tax planning services––you might only see them once a year to file your tax return. 

This lack of expertise doesn’t just cost you the year you file your tax return, it has lasting effects. Many high-earning professionals could benefit significantly from proactive tax planning strategies that help them reach their financial goals much quicker. That’s a service many traditional firms don’t provide. 

Working With a Virtual CPA Firm

Virtual CPA firms have exploded in popularity in recent years. Their proliferation has been accelerated by the pandemic, but many virtual CPA firms were in existence long before then. 

Virtual firms can be located anywhere and often focus on serving a well-defined group of clients in a particular niche. At Hall CPA, we’re a virtual CPA firm. Our services are closely tailored toward real estate investors. 

Advantages of Working With a Virtual CPA Firm

If you need more specialized tax advice, a virtual CPA firm could be a great fit. These firms often have very granular knowledge within their niche that can unlock real benefits for clients. Because they work with many individuals with similar tax planning needs, specialist firms can leverage best practices they’ve successfully applied for others in similar financial situations.

The majority of virtual firms operate on a national scale and have knowledge of the tax code in multiple states. That can be a huge benefit if, for example, you’re a Philadelphia-based real estate investor who owns several properties in Ohio. 

In addition to the clear strategic and financial benefits, you’ll find that working with a virtual firm is much more convenient. You can meet with them online, on your schedule, and share all your documents virtually and securely––no more dragging a shoebox full of documents into your CPAs office each spring. 

Disadvantages of Working With a Virtual CPA Firm

Working with a virtual CPA firm isn’t right for everyone. If you’re the type of person who likes to meet the people you do business with, shake their hand, and look them in the eye, a virtual firm probably isn’t the best fit. 

However, that’s not to say you can’t develop an effective working relationship with a CPA who you’ve only ever met on Zoom. Many virtual-first firms, Hall CPA included, serve as trusted long-term advisors and partners to their clients. 

Partner With Hall CPA: Your Virtual Real Estate CPA Firm

In the future, it’s likely all firms will offer a virtual service. Many traditional firms will pivot to hybrid models, maintaining a home office that serves their local market in addition to a virtual practice that specializes in particular practice areas on a more national level.

If you’re a real estate investor in the market for a virtual CPA firm, you’ve come to the right place. At Hall CPA, our team of virtual tax professionals serves clients all over the nation, working to develop advanced real estate tax strategies that accelerate your path toward reduces taxes and achievng your financial goals. 

Interested in working with us? Schedule an initial consultation today.