How to Choose a Tax Preparer

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ - When choosing a tax return preparer, be cautious. You are still responsible for all the information on your income tax return. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. The IRS recommends using its directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with the qualifications that they prefer. The Directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers with a credentials or filing season qualifications. The database includes the name, city, state and zip code of the tax preparer.

2. Check the Preparer’s History. Contact the Better Business Bureau and ask about the preparer. Check if they had any disciplinary actions taken against them and don’t forget to verify the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy.

3. Ask about Service Fees. The IRS recommends avoiding preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. Those preparers are more likely to take a risk with your tax return.

4. E-file. Gone are the days when tax preparers only used paper. Saving the forest is the new thing. And if you are worried, the IRS has thus far safely processed billions of e-filed tax returns.

6. Keep Records. Good and honest tax preparers will ask you to provide them with records and receipts. Be ready to supply them.

8. Review the Return before Signing. Go to the beginning of this article. You are still responsible for your return, even if you used someone else to prepare it. You need to be comfortable with the accuracy of the return before signing it. If you are not – ask questions!

9. Make Sure that the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.

10. Report Misconduct to the IRS. If you suspect a misconduct or a dishonest tax preparer, report it to the IRS. You may use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. You can get those forms anytime online from the IRS website.

Don’t forget – Tax Day this year is April 18!

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