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I have a lot of stocks. H&R Block is expensive for how many forms I do, so I'd like to try another avenue.

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Caran Ebert, CPA
I have a lot of stocks. H&R block is expensive for how many forms I do, so I'd like to try another avenue. What options do I have here in CA?

Here is the truth about hiring someone to do your tax return. There are several levels of people that are qualified and the more education and licenses a person has the more that it will cost you to have your tax return prepared. I would suggest not allowing someone prepare you return that WILL NOT SIGN as a tax preparer.

In the State of California, every tax preparer that signs a tax return must take a test and receive a license from the State as a tax preparer. Along with any license, a preparer must take continuing education and pay a fee to maintain their license. The bottom level of tax preparers could be individual offices or franchised offices like H&R Block. This is the cheapest you will pay so shop around for price.

The next level of tax preparer also took a test from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and would receive the designation Enrolled Agent (EA) behind their name. An EA must also take continuing education and be licensed in the State of California and can represent you before the IRS in an audit or in correspondence about your return. They would be a medium cost but you can be assured that they can represent you if there is a problem.

The top level of tax preparer is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and also Tax Attorneys which are licensed and regulated by the State of California. To become a CPA, you must have a Bachelor degree (4 years), pass a 4 day exam in accounting, auditing, and law then work for another CPA for a number of hours auditing (in accounting not tax which takes about 3 years) or complete a Masters degree in college. To become an attorney, you must have a Bachelor degree (4 years) and a Juris Doctorate degree (3 years) and pass a 3 day test. CPAs and Attorneys must also take 40-80 hours of continuing education each year. This would be the highest cost you would pay for tax preparation and IRS allows CPAs and Attorneys to practice before them without taking an exam because they are required to take continuing education in the field they work in.

That said, I think you should check around for prices to do your return. There are many licensed tax preparers in this state and you can look on the IRS website to find those who are registered with IRS for electronic filing. The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and IRS provide FREE online tax return preparation that you can input but be sure to enter from the FTB website first as it will give you your IRS return for free if you qualify under the income limitations. Click Here for FTB website IRS also provides in person FREE preparation service by volunteers from the VITA program that you can find on the IRS website. Click Here for IRS website

I hope I have given you some alternatives and an insight into who you should hire to prepare your return. Good Luck
Leave a Comment 5 weeks ago

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Caran Ebert, CPA
I have a lot of stocks. H&R block is expensive for how many forms I do, so I'd like to try another avenue. What options do I have here in CA?

Here is the truth about hiring someone to do your tax return. There are several levels of people that are qualified and the more education and licenses a person has the more that it will cost you to have your tax return prepared. I would suggest not allowing someone prepare you return that WILL NOT SIGN as a tax preparer.

In the State of California, every tax preparer that signs a tax return must take a test and receive a license from the State as a tax preparer. Along with any license, a preparer must take continuing education and pay a fee to maintain their license. The bottom level of tax preparers could be individual offices or franchised offices like H&R Block. This is the cheapest you will pay so shop around for price.

The next level of tax preparer also took a test from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and would receive the designation Enrolled Agent (EA) behind their name. An EA must also take continuing education and be licensed in the State of California and can represent you before the IRS in an audit or in correspondence about your return. They would be a medium cost but you can be assured that they can represent you if there is a problem.

The top level of tax preparer is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and also Tax Attorneys which are licensed and regulated by the State of California. To become a CPA, you must have a Bachelor degree (4 years), pass a 4 day exam in accounting, auditing, and law then work for another CPA for a number of hours auditing (in accounting not tax which takes about 3 years) or complete a Masters degree in college. To become an attorney, you must have a Bachelor degree (4 years) and a Juris Doctorate degree (3 years) and pass a 3 day test. CPAs and Attorneys must also take 40-80 hours of continuing education each year. This would be the highest cost you would pay for tax preparation and IRS allows CPAs and Attorneys to practice before them without taking an exam because they are required to take continuing education in the field they work in.

That said, I think you should check around for prices to do your return. There are many licensed tax preparers in this state and you can look on the IRS website to find those who are registered with IRS for electronic filing. The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) and IRS provide FREE online tax return preparation that you can input but be sure to enter from the FTB website first as it will give you your IRS return for free if you qualify under the income limitations. Click Here for FTB website IRS also provides in person FREE preparation service by volunteers from the VITA program that you can find on the IRS website. Click Here for IRS website

I hope I have given you some alternatives and an insight into who you should hire to prepare your return. Good Luck
Leave a Comment 5 weeks ago



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