Time To Choose A Tax Return Preparer – Some Advice

While most tax return preparers are professional and honest, you can use the following tips to choose a preparer who will offer the best service for your tax preparation needs.

If you choose to use a paid tax preparer, it is important that you find a qualified tax professional. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for everything on their return even when it’s prepared by someone else.

The most reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you multiple questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses, deductions, and other items. By doing so, they have your best interest in mind and are trying to help you avoid penalties, interest, or additional taxes that could result from later IRS contacts.

Get References. Ask questions and get references from clients who have used the tax professional before. Were they satisfied with the service received?

Plan Ahead. Choose a preparer you will be able to contact after the return is filed and one who will be responsive to your needs.

Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, or those who guarantee a refund or base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.

Research. Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association for attorneys. Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.

Determine if the preparer’s credentials meet your needs. Does your state have licensing or registration requirements for paid preparers? Is he or she an Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, or Attorney? If so, the preparer can represent taxpayers before the IRS on all matters – including audits, collections, and appeals. Other return preparers can represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return signed as a preparer.

Want a referral to a qualified tax return preparer from a California tax attorney? Call Mitchell A. Port at 310.559.5259.