As taxpayers get ready to file their 2021 taxes, they may be thinking about hiring a tax preparer. People should choose a tax preparer wisely. This is important because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their return, no matter who prepares it for them.
There are different kinds of tax preparers, and a taxpayer’s needs will help determine which kind of preparer is best for them. With that in mind, here are some quick tips to help people choose a preparer.
When choosing a tax professional, taxpayers should:
- Check the IRS Directory of Preparers.
While it is not a complete listing of tax preparers, it does include those who are enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys, as well as those who participate in the Annual Filing Season Program.
- Check the preparer’s history with the Better Business Bureau.
Taxpayers can 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 your refund into their financial accounts.
- Be wary of tax return preparers who claim they can get larger refunds than others.
- Ask if they plan to use e-file.
- Make sure the preparer is available.
People should consider whether the individual or firm will be around for months or years after filing the return. Taxpayers should do this because they might need the preparer to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return.
- Ensure the preparer signs and includes their preparer tax identification number.
Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare tax returns.
- Check 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.