How to Hire a Good Tax Preparer
Knowing the federal tax code can be a feat. For plenty of Americans, it’s easier to hire a professional tax preparer to avoid potential complications. Then again, finding the right one can be a feat by itself. Though there could be tons of options out there, they’re hardly the same.
If you’ve never tried working with a tax advisor before, a little research is usually necessary. 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:
First off, be sure to hire a tax preparer who has a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. It’s also wise to know the various types of tax preparers and know the type of education or certification they should have. Registered tax return preparers, for example, have to take an IRS test and finish 15 hours of continuing education on a yearly basis. During an audit is the only time a registered tax return preparer can represent you.
In contrast, an enrolled agent can represent you in all kinds of tax matters. Enrolled agents should also pass an IRS exam and finish no less than 72 hours of continuing education with three-year intervals. A CPA or tax attorney will be bound by different certification standards as per your state’s law. Finally, you may want to look into whether or not the tax preparer belongs to any professional organizations. If anything, membership tells you they are committed to their profession.
The IRS recommends asking the Better Business Bureau whether your prospective tax preparer has been involved in any consumer-related issues. In addition, see if they’ve been subject to any disciplinary actions before and if their license is active. Similarly, your state bar association and state accountancy board will be able to give you this kind of information for attorneys and accountants. If your plan is to hire an enrolled agent, you should check with the IRS. Of course, there’s word of mouth. Talk to people around you – friends and relatives, coworkers, maybe even neighbors – who might be able to give you a better picture of a certain tax preparer’s services.
Even after finding a tax preparer with whom you are very comfortable sharing your financial details with, refrain from making commitments until you’re sure about their charges. 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 always available may cost you a bit more, but it’s good for your peace of mind.