How to Choose a Good Tax Preparer
If you choose to work with a paid tax preparer, it is imperative that you find a competent professional. Even if somebody else prepares your return, you are still liable for the content and for any added payments, interest and penalty that can arise from an inaccuracy.
You may be a resident of a state in which tax preparers have no need for a license. However, a lot of tax professionals are licensed and certified, being part of professional organizations that call for a particular level of education and provide continuing training. Incompetent tax preparers may fail to notice justifiable deductions and/or credits, which can make you pay more tax than you must. Services are different for every preparer, so you need to find somebody who gives you what 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 kind of recognized 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 ongoing professional education classes yearly?
> How long have you been in this line of work?
> Have you ever prepared a tax return similar to what I need?
> How much are your charges and how do you decide on your fee?
> Are you available throughout the year to help me with any difficulties I may have in the future?
> Do you do e-filing?
> Are you authorized and will you be able to represent me with the IRS or the state treasury if necessary?
> Will you let me call some of your clients so I can ask about the quality of your work?
Ask your local Better Business Bureau if there are or were any complaints lodged against the particular preparer you’re considering.
> If the refund is to be direct deposited, will it end up in my account or yours? Your refund must always go to your account, no questions asked.
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. Keep in mind that e-filed returns are typically processed faster than returns that come through the mail. E-filed returns remain subject to assessment, and you have to rely on Treasury when it comes to the processing deadlines, not the preparer.