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How to Choose a Tax Preparer

If you choose to work with a paid tax preparer, it is imperative that you find a competent professional. Even if somebody else prepares your return, you are still liable for the content and for any added payments, interest and penalty that can arise from an inaccuracy.

You may reside in a state where tax preparers don’t need to be licensed. However, various tax professionals are licensed and certified, belonging to professional organizations that demand a specific level of education and provide continuous training. Tax preparers without qualifications may miss legit deductions and/or credits, which may have you paying more tax than you ought to. Services vary from one preparer to another, so you have to find one who provides the services you require.

Asking questions is important to make certain you are hiring a professional with the suitable skill level. These are smart questions to ask prior to engaging the services of a tax preparer:

> What type of official tax training do you have?

> Do you possess any professional licenses or designations, for instance, enrolled agent (EA), or accredited tax advisor (ATA)?

> Do you take continuous professional education courses from year to year?

> How long have you been in this line of work?

> Have you ever done a tax return similar to the one I need?

> How much do I have to pay you and how do you set your fee?

> Will you be around to help me with any issues I might have in the future?

> Do you offer e-filing services?

> Can you and are you willing to represent me in an any matter before the IRS or the state treasury if the situation calls for it?

> Will you let me call some of your clients so I can ask about the quality of your work?

Ask your local Better Business Bureau if there are or were any complaints lodged against the particular preparer you’re considering.

> If the refund is to be direct deposited, will it end up in my account or yours? Your refund should always go to your account, period.

Stay away from those who say they can get bigger refunds than other preparers, or those who “promise” results, along with those who set their fees on a cut of your refund. Pick someone you will be able to reach even after your return has been filed and who is open and receptive to your needs. Bear in mind that e-filed returns are generally processed more quickly than mailed returns. E-filed returns are still be subjected to evaluation, and you must rely on Treasury with respect to return processing time frames, not the preparer.