For many taxpayers, preparing and filing a tax return feels like a complex process. To make the process less painful, many taxpayers decide to hire a professional tax preparer to file the return for them. It is important to choose the right tax preparer for your needs before agreeing to work with someone. This is especially true if you have any complex tax issues such as business interests or past-due returns.
8 Tips for Choosing the Right Tax Preparer
How can you find the right tax preparer for your needs? The following are helpful tips:
- Verify that the tax preparer has a preparer tax identification number. Anyone who prepares federal returns for compensation must have this number.
- Evaluate your tax preparer’s background. For example, determine whether he or she is a certified financial planner, a certified public accountant, an enrolled agent, an attorney, volunteer income tax assistance volunteer, an accountant, or a bookkeeper.
- Assess the number of tax returns that the tax preparer has handled in the past. In addition, it is important to understand the types of returns the preparer has filed. For example, has the preparer handled returns for small business owners, estates, or people with rental income? Do you need someone with this type of expertise? If the tax preparer specializes in estate tax returns and you need help with a business return, he or she may not be the right choice for your needs.
- Determine up front what the preparer needs from you. Knowing what is expected from you in advance and gaining an understanding about how the process will work can help avoid misunderstandings and feelings of frustration.
- Evaluate the preparer’s fees. It may be a good idea to compare quotes from various preparers in the area. It is also important to understand how the fee is calculated. For example, is it based on the complexity of your return, the number of schedules attached, the number of supporting forms required, or some other factor?
- Determine whether the return will be filed electronically and who will be signing the return. It is also a good idea to ask up front when you can expect to see a copy of your return.
- Evaluate the preparer’s policy with regards to questions that may arise after the return has already been filed. It is important to find someone who is readily available and responsive.
- Learn about the preparer’s policy if an audit occurs. Some preparers handle audits while others may refer you to outside representation.
To learn more about this and other tax issues, we encourage you to contact us today at 800-721-7054.