Tips for Choosing a Tax Return Preparer
Your annual physical. Spring cleaning. Flu shots. What do these activities have in common? Just like preparing and filing your taxes, you need to complete them every year. Yet filing your annual tax return can seem confusing or even scary. To make the process easier, many people prefer to work with an expert.
But even if someone else does the math, prepares, and files your tax return with the IRS, you are responsible for everything reported on your return. To avoid careless mistakes or even tax return preparer fraud or misconduct, it’s important to know what to look for – and avoid – when choosing a tax return preparer.
Here are five tips to help you find a qualified tax professional:
Do your research. Before the filing deadline, research potential tax return preparers to determine if they match your personal requirements, are responsive to your questions, and you’ll be able to contact them after your tax return is filed.
The IRS has a directory of preparers with certain kinds of credentials, such as enrolled agents. IRS.gov also offers a list of national non-profit tax professional groups, which can help provide additional information for seeking the right type of qualified help.
For any preparer, it's important to ask for references — talk to others who had successful experiences with the preparer. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has had complaints filed.
You can also check with associations to see if the preparer has received any disciplinary actions, and for the status of the preparer’s license:
- For Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) State board of accountancy.
- For attorneys State bar association.
- For Enrolled Agents IRS Office of Enrollment.