Credit Infocenter

How to Choose a Tax Preparer: 10 Key Questions

January 26th, 2011 · No Comments · Taxes

by Kristy Welsh

(Last Updated On: April 12, 2017)

If you’re  working on credit repair, your tax return could take a big chunk out of old debts and make budgeting in the new year a little easier. So if you’re like millions of other Americans, you’ll turn to a tax preparer who can help ensure you get back everything you’re owed. Yes, you’ll have to pay for this service, but it could be well worth it, as a tax return professionally-prepared may result in hundreds, even thousands, of dollars more than you get back on your own. The key, of course, is making sure your tax preparer is a reputable one. Your best approach? Heed the advice of the ultimate authority you have to answer to – the IRS.

As informed by the IRS‘ “Points to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Tax Preparer,” here are 10 questions to ask yourself when searching for a professional to help with your taxes:

1. Are they a member of a professional organization that operates according to a code of ethics – an organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources?

2. Did the tax preparer apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)? They must.

3. What is their history with the Better Business Bureau? Do your own research.

4. Does your state’s board of accountancy for certified public accountants have any record of licensure status or disciplinary action against the tax preparer? Do your own research.

5. Does the tax preparer have a negative history with the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility? Do your own research.

6. Do they charge a flat fee (preferable) or one that is a percentage of your refund (to be avoided)?

7. Do they claim to be able to get you a larger refund than other tax preparers? Wrong answer.

8. Will they be available for follow-up questions should the need arise after the April deadline? They should be.

9. Do they ask you to provide records and receipts for your spending? Any reputable tax preparer will require this information.

10. Did they ask you to sign a blank return? If so, this is a serious red flag.

But take nothing for granted. Even a tax preparer who passes all of these questions with flying colors should be double- and triple-checked for accuracy. Read over your return carefully, and make sure they signed it and provided their PTIN. After all, you are the one ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your return. So choose your tax preparer carefully and take the time to ensure the accuracy of their work.

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