How to Choose a 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.
In your state, tax preparers maynot have to be licensed. 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. Untrained tax preparers may neglect valid deductions and/or credits, which may lead to you paying more tax than you are supposed to. 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. These are smart questions to ask prior to engaging the services of a tax preparer:
> What sort of proper 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 continuous professional education courses from year to year?
> How long have you worked as a tax preparer?
> Have you ever prepared a tax return similar to what I need?
> How much do I have to pay you and how do you set your fee?
> Will you be available to assist me when I have problems later on?
> Do you offer e-filing services?
> Are you authorized and will you be able to represent me with the IRS or the state treasury if necessary?
> Can you give me names of references I can call and speak to about the quality of your work?
Check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to know if there are or were complaints against the 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 be forwarded to your account, end of story.
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 are still be subjected to evaluation, and you must rely on Treasury with respect to return processing time frames, not the preparer.
Cited reference: additional hints