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A Guide How to Find a Tax Return Preparer

05 Dec 2020

Paying taxes and getting back a return where it is applicable is an important thing to pay less. Usually people tend to search for professionals when it comes to filing their tax return because the whole thing is rather complicated and nobody wants to make an error when dealing with the IRS. If a paid tax preparer is needed to file a federal income tax return, the IRS recommends that you choose a preparer carefully because even if a third person is to file your documents, you still remain legally responsible for what it contains. Therefore, choosing a tax preparer becomes a crucial thing.

Preparing a tax return form
Preparing a tax return form

Below are some tips how to select a tax return preparer.

1. Make sure you fully understand the preparer's qualifications. First of all, ask your paid tax return preparer to provide a Preparer Tax Identification Number that must be there by law. In addition to the PTIN, check if the preparer is a member to any professional organization and/or attends appropriate training courses.

2. Spend some of your time to check on the preparer's history and reviews. Look up at the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a negative history. Also, try to find any disciplinary actions or see the current status of their license. There may be three types of agents: Certified Public Accountants (checkable via the state boards of accountancy), attorneys (checkable through the state bar association), and Enrolled Agents which can be checked via the IRS directly.

3. Compare service fees. You need to beware of preparers whose proposal includes their fees based on a percentage of the tax refund or those who promise that they are able to obtain larger refunds than others. Also, always make sure any refund is returned to your account, not that of someone else. Taxpayers should avoid a situation where they deposit their refund into a preparer's bank account.

4. Ask to use an e-file for your tax return. Check if the preparer you are considering offers the IRS e-filing procedure. It is a rule that any paid preparer who had more than 10 returns for clients must file the returns in an electronic form, unless the client chooses to file a paper return. The IRS has processed over one billion individual tax returns since the new electronic filing system was introduced in 1990.

5. Make sure you can reach the preparer at any time. You need to be able to contact the tax preparer after your return is filed, even after the April 15 due date. This may be required if questions arise about your tax return.

6. Keep records and receipts. Any trustworthy preparer would want to see your records and receipts related to the case. They may want to ask questions to determine your total income and the qualifications for deductions, credits, etc. Do not use a preparer who intends to e-file your return based on data from your last pay stub before you receive your Form W-2. This contradicts with IRS e-file rules.

7. Never sign a blank return form. Keep away from tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank form. 8. Check carefully the ready return form before signing. Before signing your tax return form, review it and do not hesitate to ask questions. Make sure you understand fully its contents and see that the return is accurate.

9. See that the preparer should sign and include their PTIN in the return. It is required by law that a paid preparer must sign the return and include the official PTIN. Ask a copy of the return from the preparer.

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