How to Choose a Good Tax Preparer
If you choose to hire a paid tax preparer, it is essential that you find an experienced professional. Even if somebody else prepares your return, you are still accountable for the content and for any further payments, penalty and interest that could stem from a mistake.
You may reside in a state where tax preparers don’t need to be licensed. However, several tax professionals are licensed and certified, being affiliated with professional organizations that necessitate a certain educational level and provide constant training. Untrained tax preparers may neglect valid deductions and/or credits, which may lead to you paying more tax than you are supposed to. Services differ from one preparer to the next, so you would like to find someone who offers the exact services you need.
Asking questions is key to confirming if you are hiring a professional with the appropriate skill level. Below are good questions to ask ahead of hiring the services of a tax preparer:
> What type of official tax training do you have?
> Are you a holder of any professional licenses or designations, for example, accredited tax preparer (ATP), certified public accountant (CPA), or registered accounting practitioner (RAP)?
> Do you take continuous professional education courses from year to year?
> How long have you been in this line of work?
> Have you ever done a tax return similar to the one I need?
> How much do I have to pay you and how do you set your fee?
> Are you available throughout the year to help me with any difficulties I may have in the future?
> Do you offer e-filing services?
> Are you authorized and will you be able to represent me with the IRS or the state treasury if necessary?
> Can you give me a list of names of your past or current clients whom I can talk to about the quality of your work?
Check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to know if there are or were complaints against the preparer you’re considering.
> If the refund is going to be direct deposited, will my account receive it or yours? Your refund should always go to your account, period.
Steer clear of those who maintain they can get hold of larger refunds for you than other preparers, those who “promise” results, and those who want to be paid a percentage your refund. Go with someone who will be available even after the return is filed and who is quick to respond to your needs. Consider that e-filed returns are more often than not processed sooner than returns which are mailed. E-filed returns are still be subjected to evaluation, and you must rely on Treasury with respect to return processing time frames, not the preparer.
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