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How to Choose a Tax Preparer

If you choose to employ a paid tax preparer, it is vital that you find a practiced professional. Even if somebody else prepares your return, you are still accountable for the content and for any further payments, penalty and interest that could stem from a mistake.

You may be a resident of a state in which tax preparers have no need for a license. However, various tax professionals are licensed and certified, belonging to professional organizations that demand a specific level of education and provide continuous training. Incompetent tax preparers may fail to notice justifiable deductions and/or credits, which can make you pay more tax than you must. Services vary from one preparer to another, so you have to find one who provides the services you require.

Asking questions is very important if you want to ensure you are hiring a professional with the right skill level. Here are recommended questions to ask before you decide to choose a tax preparer:

> What kind of recognized tax training do you have?

> Do you possess any professional licenses or designations, for instance, enrolled agent (EA), or accredited tax advisor (ATA)?

> Do you take regular professional education classes every year?

> How long have you been working as a tax professional?

> Have you ever done a tax return similar to the one I need?

> How much do I need to pay you and how is your fee set?

> Will you be around to help me with any issues I might have in the future?

> Do you do e-filing?

> Can you and are you willing to represent me in an any matter before the IRS or the state treasury if the situation calls for it?

> Can you give me names of references I can call and speak to about the quality of your work?

Check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to know if there are or were complaints against the preparer you’re considering.

> If the refund is to be direct deposited, will it end up in my account or yours? Your refund must always go to your account, no questions asked.

Steer clear of those who maintain they can get hold of larger refunds for you than other preparers, those who “promise” results, and those who want to be paid a percentage your refund. Pick someone you will be able to reach even after your return has been filed and who is open and receptive to your needs. Keep in mind that e-filed returns are typically processed faster than returns that come through the mail. E-filed returns remain subject to assessment, and you have to rely on Treasury when it comes to the processing deadlines, not the preparer.

Source: Tax