Finding the Right Tax Preparer
If you want to hire a paid tax preparer, it is important that you pick a qualified professional. Though someone else prepares your return, the content remains your responsibility, including everything that may result from an error, such as interest or penalty. That’s why it’s a must that you are careful in picking the person to take care of your tax documents.
In some states, tax preparers do not need to carry a license, but it pays to hire someone who does and is certified. Before choosing a certain tax preparer, make sure to ask the following questions:
> What type of formal tax training did you acquire?
> Are you a holder of any professional licenses or designations, such as accredited tax advisor (ATA), accredited tax preparer (ATP), enrolled agent (EA), certified public accountant (CPA), or registered accounting practitioner (RAP)?
> Do you enroll in continuing professional education courses every year?
> How many years have you been in this type of work?
> Have you had a client with the same tax situation as mine?
> How much should I pay you and how do you set your fee?
> Will you be available all year round to help me with any problems I may encounter?
> 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 stand by your work?
> Can you give me some client references? Remember to check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints.)
> Whose account does the refund go to – yours or mine? (The money must be sent to your account.)
Steer clear of those who “guarantee” results, claim to get you bigger refunds than other tax preparers, and collect a percentage of your refund as their fee. The preparer you choose must be reachable after the return is filed, and will remain responsive to your needs Keep in mind that e-filed returns are typically processed more quickly than returns which are mailed. Rather than depending on the preparer, check with the Treasury to know processing time frames.
As mentioned – and it is always worth repeating – taxpayers are responsible for what is in their returns, even if you have a preparer working for you. Never sign the document until you have reviewed it. Check if all personal information found therein is correct, from your Social Security number to your number of exemptions to your address and all the rest.
Don’t sign a form that is blank, and never use pencil when signing. Tax preparers have to sign the return, fill in their parts on the form(s) and furnish you a copy. Demand to get a copy, and make sure you keep it for future reference.
Source: Tax Return