Searching for a Good Tax Preparer
If you would like to use a paid tax preparer, make sure you choose a qualified professional. Even though someone else is preparing your return, you remain responsible for the content, and for any penalty, interest or additional payment that results from an error. That’s why you need to choose the right person to handle your tax documents.
Some states do not require tax preparers to carry a license, but it’s good to hire one who does and is certified. Ask the following questions before choosing a particular tax preparer:
> What type of formal tax training did you acquire?
> Do you hold any professional designations or licenses, like certified public accountant (CPA), registered accounting practitioner (RAP), enrolled agent (EA), accredited tax preparer (ATP) or accredited tax advisor (ATA)?
> Do you enroll in continuing professional education courses every year?
> How long have you been in this line of work?
> Have you worked with someone who had a similar tax situation as mine?
> How much should I pay you and how do you set your fee?
> Will you be able to help me any time of year if I run into problems?
> Are you authorized e-file returns, and are you going to represent me in an audit or collection matter when a situation arises?
> How do you guarantee your work?
> Can you provide client references? (Don’t forget to check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints.)
> Will the refund be deposited into my account or yours? (You should receive the refund in your account.)
Forget those who get paid by taking a percentage of your refund, claim to give you bigger refunds than anyone else, and “guarantee” results. The preparer you choose must be reachable after the return is filed, and will remain responsive to your needs Note that e-filed returns are often processed much faster than those that are mailed. Rather than depending on the preparer, check with the Treasury to know processing time frames.
It can never be stressed enough that you, as the taxpayer, will be responsible for everything that is on your return, whether or not you prepared it yourself. Be sure to review the document thoroughly before signing it. Check if all your personal details, such as your Social Security number, address, exemptions, etc.
Never sign a blank form or any form with a pencil. Tax preparers need to sign the return, fill in the parts on the document(s) and give you a copy of your own. Always demand to get a copy, and then keep it your file for future reference.