How to Choose the Right Tax Preparer

How to Choose the Right Tax Preparer

You can’t hide. Every year, if you work and earn a living, you must prepare and file a tax return for the IRS. Also, depending on your state of residency, you prepare and file a state tax return. Just imagine… If HR Block or Liberty Tax did not exist, who would you turn to for preparing and filing your tax return? More than this, how would you go about selecting the right tax preparer? In the tax preparation industry, you often think about:

  • Is the tax preparer a crook and looking to rip me off?
  • How do I know if they know what they’re doing?
  • Will they disappear after tax season and leave me high and dry?

In this article, you will find 3 solid and practical tips for helping you select the right tax preparer. Use these 3 tips to reduce your stress and fear. Come away confident that your selection not only has your best interest in mind, but also will help you legally reduce your tax bill.

1. Does He or She Have a Current PTIN?
The PTIN or ‘the Professional Tax Preparer Identification Number’ is a number the IRS assigns every year for those that charge money for doing taxes. This number is important because you must be approved by the IRS each year to get one. This yearly approval process makes sure that preparers are not in any trouble with the IRS. You can check the current status of someone’s PTIN by going to the IRS website and searching for “PTIN” in the search box.

2. Ask About Their Level of Tax Experience
This tip is really important. It’s one thing to have a current PTIN, but what’s the use if you don’t know what you’re doing? Ask about past experiences in terms of clients, job history, or even working with the IRS. At a minimum, you desire to work with someone who has either completed a few tax seasons at one of the retail tax franchises like HR Block or Liberty Tax or has gained certain certifications or credentials based on years of experience or passing an exam. Another way to screen tax experience is to ask about specific tax questions you’re curious about or have had issues with in the past. They ought to give you a concise and specific response with relevant tax references.

3. What Type of Practice Does He or She Operate?
Lastly, and please don’t overlook this tip. Ask about the type of tax practice he or she operates. It’s OK to work with those that don’t have an office or suite dedicated solely to the practice. In today’s market, technology has not only changed the way tax preparers work, but also where. Most preparation services are operated virtually. This doesn’t excuse lack of order, professionalism, and accuracy of the tax return. Regardless of where or how the preparer works, you should have peace of mind when it comes to completing the return on time and correctly for a reasonable price; the level of customer service received with an expectation of prompt follow-up; and the ability to contact them when needed during and after the tax season.

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