Looking On The Bright Side of Taxes
How to Hire a Good Tax Preparer
Knowing the federal tax code can be a feat. For a lot of Americans, it’s easier to pay a professional tax preparer to keep things simple for them. Then again, finding the right one can be a feat by itself. While there are many out there who can fulfill this role, not all are created equal.
If you’ve never worked with a tax advisor before, finding a person you can trust completely may require a bit of homework on your part. 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 and foremost, hire a tax preparer with a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. Also, you should learn about know the different types of tax preparers, along with the educational background and certification you should expect from them. For example, registered tax return professionals should pass an IRS exam as well as complete 15 hours of continuing coursework year after year. During an audit is the only time a registered tax return preparer can represent you.
On the other hand, an enrolled agent will be able to represent you in all tax issues. Enrolled agents must pass an IRS exam too, on top of completing 72 + hours of ongoing education at three-year intervals. A CPA or tax attorney will be affected by unique certification standards depending on your state’s law. Lastly, find out whether your prospective tax preparer is a member of any professional organizations. If anything, membership demonstrates the level of commitment they have to their profession.
The IRS recommends asking the Better Business Bureau whether your prospective tax preparer has been involved in any consumer-related issues. As well, check if they have been subject to any type of disciplinary action in the past, and if their license is valid. The same type of information can be requested from your state accountancy board and state bar association if you’re working with an accountant or a lawyer. If your plan is to hire an enrolled agent, you should check with the IRS. Of course, word of mouth is always invaluable. Talk to relatives, friends or colleagues who have hired a particular tax preparer to learn more about the quality of service they provide.
Even after finding someone who makes you feel comfortable sharing your financial details with them, don’t make any commitments until you’ve learned about their fees. The IRS advises taxpayers to avoid tax preparers who set their fees as a percentage of your refund.
Finally, as most taxpayers know, tax prep providers begin to pop up everywhere as soon as tax season gets underway. While some are working for stable companies, others vanish as tax season ends, creating a potential problem when you have questions to ask or have to make necessary changes later on. Hiring a tax preparer who is regularly available may be pricier by a bit, but it buys you peace of mind.