How to Find the Right Tax Preparer

Posted on 01/13/2010

More important than who you choose to be your hairstylist, personal trainer, or even your mechanic, is the person you hire to help you file your taxes. As the taxpayer, you’re still legally responsible for what’s on your tax return even if it’s prepared by someone else. That’s why you want to hire the most professional, honest and knowledgeable you can find. Here are some tips straight from the IRS, plus, extra coupons & deals on tax prep software & services can be found at the Ultimate Coupons Tax Coupons page.

Know Who You’re Working With - Big accounting firms may end up passing your financial information down the line to someone you don’t know. Make sure you know exactly who will be handling your sensitive financial data and that it’s someone you’re comfortable with.

Avoid Big Promises - Some preparers claim they can get you a fatter refund check. Don’t believe them. In theory, every educated tax preparer should take all of your crumpled receipts, W-2s and deductions and come out with similar numbers of what you owe or deserve from the IRS.

Consider Your Needs - Will filing your taxes be an easy job or complex? Are you filing an individual tax return or will you have a lengthy itemized return? Considering your needs is important when choosing a tax professional. If your needs are specialized search for someone who focuses on the areas you need help with.

Look for Set Fees - Be leery of tax preparers who charge fees based on a percentage of your refund. That’s not allowed by the IRS.

Prepare for Questions - If a tax preparer is doing their job well they’ll ask you a lot of questions. Some questions may seem a bit personal, but this is information they need to know to complete your tax returns accurately. A tax preparer that doesn’t ask a lot of questions may not be doing a thorough enough job.

Do Some Research - There are several agencies that monitor tax preparers. Do a little research and make sure you’re dealing with a reputable one. Check with the Better Business Bureau, your state’s bar association for accountancy for CPAs, or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility. These agencies will know if your tax preparer has any complaints filed against them. This brochure from the National Association of Tax Professionals offers extra information on choosing the right tax professional.

By Alison Storm

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