A bookkeeper keeps the financial books; they may use QuickBooks to record transactions accurately. They keep track of accounts payable, accounts receivable, and inventory.
Your bookkeeper may pay your taxes for you, but they do not give tax advice or communicate with the IRS.
Accountants prepare detailed financial statements, perform audits, and may prepare reports for tax purposes. But an accountant has no standing with the IRS. Only CPAs, tax attorneys, and “Enrolled Agents” represent a taxpayer in audits and investigations with the IRS.
A CPA is an accountant who has passed examinations and licensing requirements to be certified by that state. CPAs also prepare tax returns for businesses and individuals, sign tax returns, and can represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits and other matters. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the national professional association for CPAs.
A Controller’s responsibility is to provide financial statements in accordance with GAAP as well as other financial reports, including closing the books, preparing monthly financial reports and presenting to management. Some of their other responsibilities are ensuring controls and procedures are in place to create timely and accurate reports and apply accounting knowledge to ensure all financials are GAAP compliant.
A Controller excels at providing management a detailed view of financial information up to a point in time.
A Chief Financial Officer helps grow your business; they work with management to create a financial roadmap to fiscal sustainability, and build metrics and reporting systems that provide performance feedback. Some of their primary responsibilities include:
- Ensure the company is adequately capitalized
- Perform financial planning & analysis, especially forecasting
- Interface with management, the board of directors, investors and banks
- Supervise all financial operations
- Install sophisticated processes and systems to support rapid growth