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Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

Knowing the federal tax code can be a feat. For many Americans, paying a professional tax preparer often makes things easier for them. Then again, choosing one can be a chore in itself. There may be several out there who can perform this role, they are not all the same.

If you’ve never worked with a tax advisor before, finding a person you can trust completely may require a bit of homework on your part. Below are tips to help you in your search:The following are pointers that can guide you as your search:Here are tips to get you started:

Qualifications

Before anything else, check if the tax preparer you’re considering has a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. You should know the different types of tax preparers as well, including the type of education or certification they are expected to have. Registered tax return preparers, for example, have to take an IRS test and finish 15 hours of continuing education on a yearly basis. During an audit is the only time a registered tax return preparer can represent you.

On the other hand, an enrolled agent will be able to represent you in all tax issues. Enrolled agents should also pass an IRS exam and finish no less than 72 hours of continuing education with three-year intervals. A CPA or tax attorney will be affected by unique certification standards depending on your state’s law. Lastly, you might want to check whether or not the tax preparer is part of any professional associations or organizations. If anything, membership is a sign that they are dedicated to their profession.

Background

The IRS recommends asking the Better Business Bureau whether your prospective tax preparer has been involved in any consumer-related issues. In addition, see if they’ve been subject to any disciplinary actions before and if their license is active. Similarly, your state bar association and state accountancy board will be able to give you this kind of information for attorneys and accountants. If you intend to hire an enrolled agent, contact the IRS. Of course, word of mouth is always invaluable. Talk to relatives, friends or colleagues who have hired a particular tax preparer to learn more about the quality of service they provide.

Fees

Even if you think you’ve found someone who makes you feel at ease discussing your financial information with them, don’t commit until they have told you about their fees. The IRS advises taxpayers to avoid tax preparers who set their fees as a percentage of your refund.

Availability

Lastly, as most taxpayers have seen, tax preparers start popping up everywhere once tax season sets in. While some are working for stable companies, others vanish as tax season ends, creating a potential problem when you have questions to ask or have to make necessary changes later on. Hiring a tax preparer who is always available may cost you a bit more, but it’s good for your peace of mind.

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