An accountant is responsible for monitoring and recording the flow of money through an agency, business or organization. The accountant also verifies the accuracy of all monetary and cash transactions and makes sure that all transactions are legal and are following current local, state and federal guidelines. The accountant may work directly for the company or business or may work privately and just be contracted or hired to complete books or tax returns for the agency. Some accountants may work directly for private individuals to help with tax returns, financial decisions, investments or other money related matters.
Accountants are formally trained and usually are chartered or certified accountants, enrolled or public accountants, or hold some other designation that indicates that they have met all training requirements as an accountant. Some accountants specialize in business or personal finance, tax preparation, estate planning or even investments or money markets. Accountants may use a variety of computer programs and different types of software to keep ledgers and to prepare the different types of forms and financial statements. Tax accountants may also be able to electronically file tax returns and to set up payment plans through customer accounts with the various taxation departments.
Accountants may work long hours especially during tax preparation time. They also may be required to participate in audits and other examinations of financial records. Corporate accountants may also be required to provide financial analysis and even risk analysis for large corporations to make future investment decisions. Those accountants that work in estate and investment planning must be current on market trends both for short and long term investment opportunities.
Common work activities include:
- Entering data regarding taxes, sales, profits, bills payable and other transactions in a timely fashion.
- Preparing and paying local, state or federal tax returns for large corporations or preparing and discussing tax returns for private individuals.
- Balancing accounts on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
- Preparing financial statements on either a regular schedule or when requested.
- Ensuring all financial practices are legal and within guidelines as outline in federal or state laws.
- Participating in budget and planning meeting with individuals or business to provide necessary information and recommendations for investments or financial opportunities.