Choosing a Tax Preparer
If you will be paying someone to do your tax return, choose a tax
preparer wisely. You are legally responsible for what's on your tax returns even
if they are prepared by someone else. So, it's important to find a qualified tax
Reputable preparers will ask multiple questions to determine whether
expenses, deductions and other items qualify and remind clients that they need
to keep careful and complete records in order to substantiate information on
their tax return. By doing so, they have your best interest in mind and are
trying to help you avoid penalties, interest, or additional taxes that could
result from later IRS contacts.
Most tax return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent
service to their clients; you can use the following tips to choose a preparer
who will offer the best service for their tax preparation needs.
Find out what the service fees are before the return is prepared. Avoid
preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who
claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
Only use a tax professional that signs your tax return and provides you
with a copy for your records.
Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
Choose a tax preparer that will be around to answer questions after the
return has been filed.
Ask questions. Do you know anyone who has used the tax professional? Were
they satisfied with the service they received?
Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better
Business Bureau, the state's board of accountancy for CPAs or the state's bar
association for attorneys. Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional
organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also
holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
Determine if the preparer's credentials meet your needs. Does your
state have licensing or registration requirements for paid preparers? Is
he or she an Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, or Attorney? If
so, the preparer can represent taxpayers before the IRS on all matters
including audits, collections, and appeals. Other return preparers
can represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return signed as a
Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask