How to Hire a Good Tax Preparer
Understanding the federal tax code can be a chore. For a lot of Americans, it’s easier to pay a professional tax preparer to keep things simple for them. Then again, finding the right one can be a feat by itself. There may be several out there who can perform this role, they are not all the same.
If you haven’t hired a tax advisor in the past, finding the right person to trust may require a little research. Below are tips to help you in your search:The following are pointers that can guide you as your search:Here are tips to get you started:
Before anything else, check if the tax preparer you’re considering has a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. Also, you should learn about know the different types of tax preparers, along with the educational background and certification you should expect from them. Registered tax return preparers, for example, have to take an IRS test and finish 15 hours of continuing education on a yearly basis. They can represent you in the event that you are audited but not otherwise.
In contrast, an enrolled agent can represent you in all kinds of tax matters. Enrolled agents must pass an IRS exam too, on top of completing 72 + hours of ongoing education at three-year intervals. A CPA or tax attorney will be affected by unique certification standards depending on your state’s law. Lastly, you might want to check whether or not the tax preparer is part of any professional associations or organizations. If anything, membership demonstrates the level of commitment they have to their profession.
The IRS recommends you check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints under the name of your prospective tax preparer. As well, check if they have been subject to any type of disciplinary action in the past, and if their license is valid. In the same manner, your state accountancy board and state bar association can offer you equivalent information pertaining to accountants and lawyers. If you’re thinking of hiring an enrolled agent, you’ll have to contact the IRS. Of course, word of mouth is still of value. Talk to relatives, friends or colleagues who have hired a particular tax preparer to learn more about the quality of service they provide.
Even if you think you’ve found someone who makes you feel at ease discussing your financial information with them, don’t commit until they have told you about their fees. As well, the IRS advises taxpayers to stay away from tax preparers whose fees are calculated as a percentage of the taxpayer’s expected refund.
Lastly, as most taxpayers have seen, tax preparers start popping up everywhere once tax season sets in. Though some are affiliated with established companies, others disappear by the end of the tax season, possibly causing issues when you need to amend your return for some reason or you just want to ask questions. Hiring a tax preparer who is regularly available may be pricier by a bit, but it buys you peace of mind.