How to Choose a Tax Preparer

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WHAT ARE THE PREPARERS QUALIFICATIONS?: All tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Ask what license(s) they have (Enrolled Agent, CPA, or Attorney). You want your preparer to at least be a Registered Tax Return Preparer and have met minimal competency requirements. Ask if they are affiliated with any professional organizations. Most professional organizations require their members to take continuing education.

WHAT ARE THEIR SERVICE FEES?: You should be paying a preparer for their knowledge and time you don’t want a preparer who bases their fees on the amount of your refund, or who claims they can get you a larger refund. Never deposit part or all of your refund into a bank account with the preparers name on it. Always make sure the refund is deposited into your bank account.

DO THEY OFFER ELECTRONIC FILING?: Any paid preparer who files more than 10 tax returns is required to electronically file them unless the client wants to file a paper return.

DO THEY ASK QUESTIONS?: You want a preparer who requests all of your tax documents (W­2’s, 1099’s, K­1’s etc…) and will ask questions to determine your total income and qualifications for expenses, deductions, and other items. No two tax situations are the same. Do not use a preparer that is willing to electronically file your return before you receive your W­2’s and other tax documents.

NEVER SIGN A BLANK RETURN: Before you sign a tax return review the completed return with the preparer. Make sure to ask questions so that you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return. Although your preparer signs the return you are responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. Make sure the preparer signs the return and gives you a copy of the return.

MAKE SURE THE PREPARER IS ACCESSIBLE: Make sure you can contact the preparer after your return has been filed, even after the April due date.

WILL THEY REPRESENT YOU IF YOU ARE AUDITED?: A tax preparer should stand by their work and represent you in the unlikely case you are audited. It is a big red flag if they are reluctant to engage on this issue.

WHAT ARE THE PREPARERS QUALIFICATIONS?: All tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Ask what license(s) they have (Enrolled Agent, CPA, or Attorney). You want your preparer to at least be a Registered Tax Return Preparer and have met minimal competency requirements. Ask if they are affiliated with any professional organizations. Most professional organizations require their members to take continuing education.

WHAT ARE THEIR SERVICE FEES?: You should be paying a preparer for their knowledge and time you don’t want a preparer who bases their fees on the amount of your refund, or who claims they can get you a larger refund. Never deposit part or all of your refund into a bank account with the preparers name on it. Always make sure the refund is deposited into your bank account.

DO THEY OFFER ELECTRONIC FILING?: Any paid preparer who files more than 10 tax returns is required to electronically file them unless the client wants to file a paper return.

DO THEY ASK QUESTIONS?: You want a preparer who requests all of your tax documents (W­2’s, 1099’s, K­1’s etc…) and will ask questions to determine your total income and qualifications for expenses, deductions, and other items. No two tax situations are the same. Do not use a preparer that is willing to electronically file your return before you receive your W­2’s and other tax documents.

NEVER SIGN A BLANK RETURN: Before you sign a tax return review the completed return with the preparer. Make sure to ask questions so that you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return. Although your preparer signs the return you are responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. Make sure the preparer signs the return and gives you a copy of the return.

MAKE SURE THE PREPARER IS ACCESSIBLE: Make sure you can contact the preparer after your return has been filed, even after the April due date.

WILL THEY REPRESENT YOU IF YOU ARE AUDITED?: A tax preparer should stand by their work and represent you in the unlikely case you are audited. It is a big red flag if they are reluctant to engage on this issue.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO KEEP YOUR FEES DOWN?: The better organized you are, the less time it will take your preparer to find information. You don’t want to give them a box with all your documents in it as you will have to pay them to go through it. If you own your own business make sure you have a spreadsheet or a Quicken or QuickBooks file that contains all your income and expenses.

 

This article was provided by:
Cheri A. Altman, Enrolled Agent
Advantage Tax Services, LLC
919-623-5749
Advantage.Tax.ServicesLLC@gmail.com

Advantage Tax Services, LLC is an affordable mobile tax service. Our services include Individual Tax Preparation, Business Tax Preparation, Gift Returns, IRS Audit Representation, State Audit Representation, Electronic Filing, Prior-Year Filing and up-to-date tax knowledge. Open year-round to serve you.

By | 2017-05-20T16:43:25+00:00 January 20th, 2015|Tax Information|0 Comments