As people get ready for tax filing season, it’s important that they select tax return preparers with the skills, education and expertise to prepare tax forms properly. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for all the information on their tax return, regardless of who prepares it.

There are many types of tax preparers, including certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, attorneys and others. A taxpayer should choose a tax preparer that works best for their needs, according to a news release.

Here are some tips to help people choose a preparer.

Check the IRS Directory of Preparers

Taxpayers can find an enrolled agent, CPA, attorney or participant in Annual Filing Season Program with the IRS Directory of Preparers

Checklist for Choosing a Tax Pro

Before hiring a tax preparer:

  • Check the 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 preparers claiming they can get larger refunds than other tax preparers.
  • Ask if the preparer plans to use e-fileThe fastest way to get a tax refund is by e-filing and choosing direct deposit.
  • Choose a firm or individual with a track record. Preparers may need to answer questions about the tax return months or even years later.
  • Ensure the preparer signs the tax return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number. Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN and 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.

Watch Out for Tax Preparer Scams

Tax return preparer fraud is a common tax scam. Here are tips on avoiding unscrupulous tax preparers.

The IRS is committed to investigating paid tax return preparers who act improperly. Taxpayers can file a complaint if they have been financially impacted by a tax return preparer’s misconduct or improper tax preparation practices.

More information:

Choosing a Tax Professional

Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax

Source: IRS