9,000 pages, over 4 million words, and an average of one change per day, the
tax code is one complex document to decipher. It’s no wonder over 84 million
taxpayers will opt to use a paid tax preparer this tax season. Add in the
changes from the new law, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, with a
delay in the filing deadline and it’s not hard to understand why we seek
professional help (in more ways than one)!
someone who is honest, certified and professional. So, how do you go about
finding the right fit for you? Here are a few quick tips to get you started.
friends and family for referrals.
quiz them on the best dentist or car dealership; why not ask them who they
trust to do their taxes. Ask the people you trust around your office who they
use and why they like them. Ask them, too, what they don’t like about them.
Because every person has a different tax situation, the one thing they don’t
like about their preparer (they talk taxes too much), you may be love about
them (someone who explains my taxes to me).
down and have an interview with the tax preparer. Ask how long they have been
in business and what sort of continuing education requirements they adhere to.
Contact your state’s Better Business Bureau for complaints or actions taken
against the tax preparer or business. A few simple questions can ensure the
person you pay to do your taxes is legit.
are their office hours?
leery of a shop that is here today and closed tomorrow. The IRS can come
calling months after you file your return. You need your tax preparer to be
available to help answer questions in case you get married, purchase property,
etc. Also, if you are ever audited a good tax preparer will walk you through
the process. Due to these life changes, tax preparers should be open year round
to field your tax issues.
about their fees.
out if the tax preparer explains they charge based on the amount of your
anticipated refund. This is a red flag because their motive may be to get you
deductions you are not qualified for. The IRS has found that these institutions
practice cutting corners or commit tax fraud.
be confused by fees ranging with more complex returns. A Form 1040 is a
straight forward return and going to take less time to prepare so it won’t cost
as much to prepare. However, a Form 1120 can cost more because it is more
involved. It is not uncommon for fees to adjust depending on the complexity of
with your gut.
you should feel comfortable with your tax preparer. A professional tax preparer
will return your phone calls and gladly answer any questions. Be patient though
because tax time is pretty busy for them.
A good tax preparer will tell you what forms you need to bring in and
inform you which deductions you qualify for. You should never sign anything
before it’s filled out. No one should ask you to sign blank tax forms (or any
forms for that matter). If you’re not getting good service, get out.
In the end, you are
legally responsible for the information on your tax return, so make sure you
choose a tax preparer wisely.