Finding the Right 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. Ask the following questions before choosing a particular tax preparer:
> What type of formal tax training did you acquire?
> Do you hold any professional designations or licenses, like certified public accountant (CPA), registered accounting practitioner (RAP), enrolled agent (EA), accredited tax preparer (ATP) or accredited tax advisor (ATA)?
> Do you engage in continuing professional education classes year after year?
> How long have you been in this line of work?
> Have you had a client with the same tax situation as mine?
> How much will you charge me and how do you determine your rates?
> Will you be able to help me any time of year if I run into problems?
> Are you authorized to e-file returns, and will you represent me in an audit or collection matter when it comes up?
> How do you stand by your work?
> Can you provide client references? Remember to check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints.)
> 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. Pick someone you can reach even after your return has been filed, and one who is known for being responsive to their clients’ needs. Note that e-filed returns are often processed much faster than those that are mailed. Don’t rely on the preparer to know the time frames for processing returns; instead, check with the Treasury.
It is always worth repeating that taxpayers are responsible for whatever is in their returns, even if these were prepared by someone else. Don’t sign the document unless you have reviewed it thoroughly. Check if all your personal details, such as your Social Security number, address, exemptions, etc.
Never sign a blank form or any form with a pencil. Tax preparers should sign the return, fill in the relevant areas on the form(s) and give you a copy. Always demand for a copy, making sure you keep it for reference later on.
Source: Tax Return