How to Choose a Tax Preparer
If you decide to hire a paid tax preparer, you need to find a qualified professional. Even though someone else is preparing your return, you remain responsible for the content, and for any penalty, interest or additional payment that results from an error. That’s why you need to choose the right person to handle your tax documents.
In some states, tax preparers do not need to carry a license, but it pays to hire someone who does and is certified. Before choosing a certain tax preparer, make sure to ask the following questions:
> What formal tax training have you acquired?
> Do you have any professional licenses or designations, such as registered accounting practitioner (RAP), certified public accountant (CPA), accredited tax preparer (ATP), accredited tax advisor (ATA) or enrolled agent (EA)?
> Do you take continuing education courses yearly?
> How many years have you been in this type of work?
> Have you worked with someone who had a similar tax situation as mine?
> How much should I pay you and how do you set your fee?
> Will you be around the whole year, just in case I run into some problems?
> Do you have authority to e-filing returns, and can I count on you to represent me in an audit or collection issue?
> How do you stand by your work?
> Can you give me a few client references? Check with the Better Business Bureau to know if complaints have been filed against the preparer.)
> Does the refund go to my account or yours? (The money should always be credited to your account.)
Forget those who get paid by taking a percentage of your refund, claim to give you bigger refunds than anyone else, and “guarantee” results. Select someone who will be around for you even after the return is filed, and one who will continue to be responsive to your needs. Note that processing is faster for e-filed returns than those that are mailed. Don’t rely on the preparer to know the time frames for processing returns; instead, check with the Treasury.
As mentioned – and it is always worth repeating – taxpayers are responsible for what is in their returns, even if you have a preparer working for you. Never sign the document until you have reviewed it. See if all your personal information is accurate, like your Social Security number, address, types and sources of income, and so on.
Don’t sign a form that is blank, and never use pencil when signing. Tax preparers need to sign the return, fill in the parts on the document(s) and give you a copy of your own. Always demand to get a copy, and then keep it your file for future reference.
Source: online tax return