10 Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer

Filing the income tax return by hand
Choosing a trustworthy professional makes all the difference for your tax return.

 

February is usually the time when we start looking for help from tax professionals to file our tax returns. When using a paid tax preparer to file your federal income tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that preparer carefully. Remember that even if someone else prepares your return, you are legally responsible for what is on it. Please keep in mind these 10 tips when choosing a tax return preparer:

1. Check the preparer’s qualifications. All paid tax return preparers are required to have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask if the preparer belongs to a tax professionals’ organization and attends continuing education classes required by the IRS.
2. Check on the preparer’s history. Always check the tax professional’s history before selecting his or her services. You can do this by going to the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history and any disciplinary actions, and to check on the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state board of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar association. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.
3. Ask about 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 can. A trusted tax preparer will always use the correct tax law applicable to your situation to maximize your refund or reduce your tax liability. Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into an account in your name. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
4. Ask to e-file your return. Make sure your tax return preparer offers IRS e-file, as any paid preparer who files more than 10 returns for clients must do so electronically, unless the client opts to file a paper return. IRS has safely and securely processed more than 1 billion individual tax returns since the debut of electronic filing in 1990.
5. Make sure the preparer is accessible. You should be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return, even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful if questions arise about your tax return.

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