If you choose to have a professional company or an individual prepare your tax returns, you need to take your time when assessing potential tax preparers so that you make an informed decision. Keep in mind that you are responsible for the information on your tax returns even if you had a tax return expert prepare it for you. It is therefore, important to make careful considerations when hiring a company or an individual to prepare your tax returns.
Fortunately, a vast majority of tax return preparers are honest professionals who offer their clients excellent services. The following are some considerations to keep in mind when hiring a company or individual to prepare your tax returns.
- Verify the company’s or individual’s qualifications; Find out if the tax preparer has affiliation to any professional body that provides its members continuing resources and education, and holds them to an industry code of ethics. The law requires all tax return preparers including enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys to apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), before preparing any federal tax return in the subsequent year, even if the return preparers already have one.
- Perform a background check on the preparer’s history; Find out what kind of history the preparer has with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and verify their licensure status. Also, find out if there is any disciplinary action by the state boards of accountancy for CPAs; the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility for enrolled agents; and the state bar associations for lawyers.
- Find out how much they charge for their services; While it is always an advantage to hire cheap professional services, your main focus should be on finding an experienced and competent tax preparer that offers their services at a reasonable rate so that you get value for your money.
- The tax preparer should be easily accessible; Make certain that you can easily reach the tax preparer after your returns have been filed, in case you have any questions or concerns.
- Provide the tax return preparer with all the receipts and records required to prepare your returns; Majority of well established preparers will request to see all your receipts and records. They will ask you a number of questions to calculate our income and your qualifications for deductions and expenses.
- Before you sign the tax return, review it; Reviewing the entire tax return and asking questions helps you understand the process and become confident about the accuracy before signing it.
- Finally, make sure the preparer, too, signs the form and includes their PTIN; The law requires paid preparers to sign the forms and include their PTIN. However, remember that while the preparer is required to sign the form and include their PTIN, the law still holds you responsible for the accuracy of all the items on your return. The preparer should also provide you with a copy of the return.
Hiring a professional tax preparer is the surest way of ensuring all your return as prepared correctly.