By A.J. Gross
As with any major decision in life, you should choose your tax preparer wisely. Paying taxes is a serious matter, so it's important where you choose to have your tax return prepared. While you only need to file your taxes once each spring, you can save yourself from any last minute stress by spending time now to find the right tax professional to prepare your tax return.
There are a number of points to keep in mind as you search for a quality tax preparer who fits your needs. Fortunately, the IRS has provided taxpayers with a thorough list of criteria to keep in mind. This is what the IRS suggests when looking for the right tax professional to prepare your tax return for the 2015 tax season:
- Choose an ethical tax preparer that you can trust with your personal data.
- Know what tax preparers charge up front. Tax preparers who base fees on refund percentages or claim to earn clients larger refunds than other preparers are bad news.
- Make sure the tax preparer has a current Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is required for a tax professional to prepare tax returns.
- Research the tax preparer’s history with the Better Business Bureau and IRS Office of Enrollment. For certified public accountants, verify with the state board of accountancy, and, for attorneys, check with the state bar association.
- Request IRS e-file so that your tax return is filed electronically. Be aware this is already required of tax preparers who file more than 10 tax returns for clients.
- Provide records and receipts to your tax preparer. Avoid tax preparers who are willing to go against IRS e-file rules and claim they can and will e-file your tax return using a pay stub instead of Form W-2.
- Review and ask questions about your tax return before signing. You’re responsible for what information your tax return claims, even if a tax professional prepares it for you.
- Don’t sign a blank tax return. Make sure the tax return is filled out with your proper information and that you’ve reviewed the information before signing.
- Make sure the preparer signs the tax return and includes their PTIN. The tax preparer is also required to give you a copy of the tax return.
It’s important for you to be educated as a taxpayer when looking for the right tax professional to prepare your tax return this upcoming tax season. For more information on Determining the Validity of a Tax Preparer’s Credentials and your rights as a taxpayer, go to www.ALGTaxSolutions.com.
A.J. Gross, C.P.A., E.A. is President of ALG Tax Solutions. A.J. Gross can be contacted at AJGross@algtaxsolutions.com or www.algtaxsolutions.com.
This was printed in the December 13, 2015 - December 26, 2015 edition.