How To Choose A Tax Preparer

17 Jan

If you pay someone to prepare your tax return, you should choose wisely.
You as a taxpayer are legally responsible for what’s on your tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. So, it is important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare your return.

  • Check the preparer’s history. Check for any disciplinary actions and licensure status through the state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants; the state bar associations for attorneys; and the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility for enrolled agents.
  • Check their service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
  • Make sure the tax preparer is accessible. Make sure you will be able to contact the tax preparer after the return has been filed, even after the April due date, in case questions arise.
  • Watch for red flags. Some red flags include not asking to see your records and receipts, not asking multiple questions, a request to sign a blank tax form
  • Never sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
  • Review the entire return before signing it. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
  • Check the person’s qualifications. Ask if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources and holds them to a code of ethics. All paid tax return preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number
  • Make sure the preparer signs the form and includes their PTIN. Even though the preparer signs the return, you are responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

Image credits: 1,2,3,4, 5, 6

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