If you have chosen to have a paid professional prepare your tax return this year, be careful when selecting a tax professional. Though most tax professional provide honest, high-quality service, a minority of dishonest preparers operate each filing season perpetuating refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt innocent taxpayers.
The best way to find the right tax professional is to ask a lot of questions. Here are a list of questions to consider during your search:
- Are you available year-round? If questions come up about a tax return, you may need to contact the tax professional after the filing season is over.
- Do they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (“PTIN”). Paid tax preparer are required to register with the IRS, have a PTIN and include it on tax returns. To find out if your tax professional has a PTIN, you can visit the IRS website at irs.gov/chooseataxpro.
- What professional credentials do they have? Enrolled agents, certified public accounts or attorneys belong to professional organizations and are required to attend continuing education classes.
- How do you determine your fees? Avoid tax professionals who base their fees on a percentage of their client’s refund or boast bigger refunds than their competitors.
- Do they offer e-filing? Tax professionals who file more than 10 tax returns a year are generally required to file electronically.
- What documents do you need to provide? If a tax professional doesn’t ask for documents or wants to use bank statements and a paystub, then it’s time to find a new tax professional.
- Can the tax professional represent you before the IRS on any tax matters? Only attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent any client before the IRS in any situation. Tax professionals who do not hold these credentials cannot represent taxpayers before the IRS.
- Can the tax professional provide a list of references?