6 Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

ADVERTISEMENT

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — If you decide to hire a professional to help prepare your taxes, it's important to remember that you are still ultimately responsible for what's on your return.

Here are some tips to remember before you hire someone to assist with your taxes:

1. Ask for recommendations.

Word of mouth is the best way to find a reliable preparer, so ask friends and family where they get their taxes done and if they've had any problems with their preparers.

2. Make sure the person is qualified.

Your preparer doesn't need to be a certified public accountant, but it's important to make sure he or she is properly trained and stays up to date on tax law changes. Ask questions about the individual's training, experience and continuing education.

3. Be certain the preparer will have your back in an audit.

Ask the preparer if you'll have support if the IRS questions your return or you get audited. Audits are rare, but can be unpleasant, and you shouldn't have to face them alone. Ask if the preparer has experience handling such problems — but not too much, which may signal problems.

4. Make sure you're comfortable with their approach.

Some tax preparers can be aggressive in their approach to minimizing your taxes, others can be conservative. Be wary of those who guarantees they can get larger refunds than other preparers, but make sure they're going to claim all of deductions you're entitled to.

5. Check their background.

If you are considering hiring a CPA, check the individual's license with the state CPA association. Ask enrolled agents and others if they are members of a professional organization that holds them to certain standards. Also check to see if there are any complaints against the person with the Better Business Bureau, the state's board of accountancy for CPAs, the state's bar association for attorneys or the IRS office of professional responsibility for enrolled agents. Your state may also track complaints against preparers.

6. Make sure they'll sign your return.

The law requires paid preparers to sign each return they handle, and include an identifying number on the return. If they won't, take your business elsewhere.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

Show Comments

Back to Top