Ten Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer

1)   Check the preparer’s qualifications.  All paid preparers are required to have Preparer Tax Identification Number.  In addition to having a PTIN ask if the preparer attends continuing education classes

2)   Check the preparer’s history. Check for any disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For CPAs check with state board of accountancy. For Attorneys check with the state bar associations.  For Enrolled Agents check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.

3)   Ask about service fees.  Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.

4)   Ask to e-file your return.  Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and file more than 10 returns must file electronically, unless the client opts to file a paper return.

5)   Make sure the preparer is accessible. Be sure you will be able to contact the preparer after you file your return, even after April 15th.

6)   Provide records and receipts. Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts.  Preparers will ask you questions to determine your total income and expenses and your qualifications for deductions, credits and other items.

7)   Never sign a blank return. Avoid preparers that ask you to sign a blank form.

8)   Review the entire return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions.  You are legally responsible as to the content of the return.

9)   Make sure your preparer signs and includes their PTIN.  A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law.  The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

10)   Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. Forms can be downloaded at the IRS.gov.