10 Tips To Pick A Tax Preparer

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Everyone agrees that taxes are getting more complicated with every passing year. In our busy lives, staying on top of things is getting very difficult. To add to this if we have to keep track of our household budget, our 401(k)’s, our mortgage & insurance rates, our financial records, and so on, it is sometimes best to leave our individual & small business taxes to professionals. A very good software is still dependent on proper data entry and understanding the bottom line. I know a lot of people who prepare their own taxes but I know of more who miss out on simple things that changed from the previous year.

If you have to pick a professional to prepare your taxes, the Internal Revenue Service urges that you make a wise decision. Always remember, even if someone else prepares your Tax Return, the Taxpayer is still the person responsible for the contents. So choose your Tax Preparer wisely.

Here are Ten Tips to keep in mind when you choose a tax preparer:

1.  Check Preparer Qualifications:

New Regulations require all paid preparers have a Preparer Tax ID Number (PTIN). They also have to take Continuing Education Classes. And for those preparers who are not Enrolled Agents, CPA’s or Tax Attorneys, the IRS is phasing in new test requirements to make sure they have minimum competency requirements. These persons will be called Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP) once they pass the tests. This increases the taxpayer’s responsibility to check preparer credentials.

2.  Check on the Preparer History:

Make sure the preparer does not have a questionable history with the Better Business Bureau. Also check for any disciplinary actions and/or licensure status through the State Boards of Accountancy for CPA’s; State Bar Association for Attorneys; and the IRS Office of Enrollment for EA’s.

3.  Ask About Service Fees:

Do not pick preparers who base their fee as a percentage of your refund. Or those who claim that they can get you larger refunds than others. All refunds due to you should be deposited into an account in your name. No preparer can deposit your refund or a part thereof into their Bank Accounts.

4.  Ask if Electronic Filing Is Offered:

Any preparer who prepares & files more than 10 Tax Returns MUST file returns electronically, unless the clients opts out or has to file on paper. There are more than a billion taxes filed electronically & it is a safe method.

5.  Make sure the Preparer is Accessible:

If questions arise after the Tax Return is filed, make sure you can contact the Preparer.

6.  Provide All Records Needed to Prepare Your Tax Return:

Preparers need to collect all paper-work from you including records & receipts. They need to ask you multiple questions to determine the best way for you to file, your total income & your deductions. NEVER accept a preparer who is willing to file your return using your last pay stub-that is against IRS e-file rules.

7.  Never sign a Blank Return:

If you are asked to sign to a blank return – RUN!

8.  Review the entire return before signing it:

Make sure you understand everything before you sign the return. You should ask questions and also be comfortable with the accuracy of your Tax Return before you sign it.

9.  Make Sure the Preparer Signs the Tax Return And Includes their PTIN:

Every paid tax Preparer must include their PTIN when signing the Tax Return, this is required by Law. You should also receive a copy of your Tax Return.

10.  Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS:

If you suspect a Tax Preparer of fraud, they can be reported to the IRS on Form 14157.

Original Post By:  Manasa Nadig

I am Manasa Nadig, enrolled to practice and represent taxpayers with the Internal Revenue Service. I have been in the business of Tax Preparation & Tax Planning since 1999. My firm, MN Tax Solutions, LLC is based in Michigan, USA. Please connect with me on TaxConnections for more information about myself & the services provided by my firm.

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