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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. While there are many out there who can fulfill this role, not all are created equal.

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

First off, be sure to hire a tax preparer who has a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. Also, you should learn about know the different types of tax preparers, along with the educational background and certification you should expect from them. Registered tax return preparers, for example, have to take an IRS test and finish 15 hours of continuing education on a yearly basis. They can represent you in the event that you are audited but not otherwise.

On the other hand, an enrolled agent can be your representative in type of tax issue. Enrolled agents also need to pass an IRS exam and complete a minimum of 72 hours of continuing coursework every three years. A CPA or tax attorney will be bound by different certification standards as per your state’s law. Lastly, find out whether your prospective tax preparer is a member of any professional organizations. If anything, membership tells you they are committed to their profession.

History

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, there’s word of mouth. Ask friends, relatives or coworkers who have used a certain tax preparer to know more about the quality of their services.

Fees

Even after finding someone who makes you feel comfortable sharing your financial details with them, don’t make any commitments until you’ve learned about their fees. As well, the IRS advises taxpayers to stay away from tax preparers whose fees are calculated as a percentage of the taxpayer’s expected refund.

Availability

Finally, as most taxpayers know, tax prep providers begin to pop up everywhere as soon as tax season gets underway. 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 regularly available may be pricier by a bit, but it buys you peace of mind.

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