Case Study: My Experience With Taxes

How to Choose a Good Tax Preparer

If you choose to hire a paid tax preparer, it is essential that you find an experienced 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. 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 important to make certain you are hiring a professional with the suitable skill level. Below are good questions to ask ahead of hiring the services of a tax preparer:

> What type of official 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 do I need to pay you and how is your fee set?

> Are you available throughout the year to help me with any difficulties I may have in the future?

> 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 a list of names of your past or current clients whom I can talk to about the quality of your work?

Consider checking with the Better Business Bureau in your area to learn about complaints against the preparer, if any.

> If the refund is going to be direct deposited, will my account receive it or yours? Your refund should always go to your account, period.

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. Bear in mind that e-filed returns are generally processed more quickly than mailed returns. E-filed returns will still subject to examination, and you ought to rely on Treasury in terms of the return processing deadlines, not the preparer.