Tax filing season will be here soon. As people begin to gather their documents and receipts in preparation for filing a tax return, many are also choosing to use a professional tax return preparer.
Anyone with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number can be a paid tax return preparer. However, tax return preparers have differing levels of skills, education, and expertise. Choosing a tax return preparer wisely is important because taxpayers are ultimately responsible for all the information on their return, no matter who prepares it for them, according to a news release.
Taxpayers Can Start Searching with IRS Directory of Preparers
When looking for a tax professional, taxpayers can search the IRS Directory of Preparers. While it is not a complete listing of tax return preparers, it includes enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys, and those who participate in the Annual Filing Season Program.
Before hiring a preparer, taxpayers should make sure they know what they’re getting. They can do this by:
- Check Preparer’s History with the Better Business Bureau: Taxpayers can also verify an enrolled agent’s status on IRS.gov.
- Ask About Fees: Taxpayers should avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of their refund into their financial accounts. Taxpayers should be suspicious of any preparer claiming they can get larger refunds than other tax preparers.
- Ass if the Preparer Plans to Use e-file. The fastest way to get a tax refund is by e-filing and choosing direct deposit.
- Make Sure the Preparer will be Available if Needed. People should consider whether the individual or firm will be around for months or years after filing the return. They may need the preparer to answer questions about preparing the tax return later.
- Ensure Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare tax returns and must include it on any tax return they prepare.
- Consider the Person’s Credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in tax matters. Other tax return preparers who participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program have limited practice rights to represent taxpayers during audits of returns they prepared.
- Choosing a Tax Professional
- Tax Time Guide: Free tax return help available in-person and online
- Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax