Why wait until Tax Season to find a Tax Preparer? Tax Preparers’ schedules are busy, and sometimes even full, during their peak season. They will not turn you away, of course, but given the looming April 15th deadline, you may have fewer choices and time to find one best suited to you. Non-Tax Season, if their office is still open, any Tax Preparer will be happy to speak with you whether you have specific or general questions. Choosing a Tax Preparer in summertime when your schedule, and theirs, is more relaxed, will make the whole situation less stressful and enjoyable for you. Here are a few tips we think you should keep in mind. Below our list, are tips and tricks from the TAS for choosing a Tax Preparer and keeping your information as secure as possible.
- Make sure your Tax Preparer is open all year around. Searching for one during the summer will indicate whether they are easy to reach at any other time of the year as well.
- Ask about how the company will keep your personal information safe from fraud.
- Location—local preparers will be most up-to-date with the tax laws of your county and state, especially important for small business owners. This will also be a convenient feature for you (and your gas tank). But do not discount out-of-state Tax Preparers either, just make certain they are familiar with the laws of your specific area and ask about their process.
- Are there any benefits or discounts you might qualify for such as a referral discount program. This not only benefits you, but the company and the friend you refer.
- Ask co-workers and friends for a referral to a Tax Preparer, word-of-mouth reputation is the best indicator of happy customers. This may also indicate a convenient location for you, eliminating the need to do research on at least one aspect.
The Tax Payer Advocate Service, or TAS, offers a few tips for finding a Tax Preparer, and red flags with any Tax Preparers you currently or have worked with. To see the full list, visit their website here. The IRS also has a helpful list of tips. Making the IRS website a go-to-guide for tax laws, deadlines, or anything related to your taxes, will ensure you have the most up-to-date information. Your Tax Preparer will also have the most up-to-date information for you.
- Research – Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for Certified Public Accountants (CPA) or the state’s bar association for attorneys. You can contact these organizations by looking in your local telephone directory or on the Internet.
- Determine if the preparer’s qualifications meet your needs – Is the preparer an Enrolled Agent (EA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Attorney? Only EAs, CPAs and attorneys can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters including audits, collection actions and appeals. Other return preparers may represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return they signed as a preparer.
- Make sure the preparer signs the return and fills in his or her PTIN or Social Security number as indicated on the forms.
- Obtain from the preparer a hard copy of the signed and filed return; keep the copy in case of a problem with the return.
Avoid the following:
- Over promising – Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, or those who guarantee refunds or base their fees on a percentage of the refund.
- False statements – Avoid preparers who try to persuade you to say something on your tax return that is not true in order to get a bigger refund.
- Blank returns – Avoid any tax preparer that asks you to sign a blank return or requires the refund be sent directly to them.
Whether you are on extension and need to file your return, file an amended return, find a tax consultant or are simply looking for a consultation and Tax Preparer for next Tax Season, choosing a Tax Preparer now, during the summer, will guarantee you will be prepared for filing your return in six months. Visit our website to see what services we can provide for you, and for more information, you are welcome to call our office. To make an appointment to speak with one of our Tax Preparers, contact our office, (425) 242-0636, or by email, email@example.com.