Checklist to Choose a Tax Preparer for the Upcoming Filing Season

Tax season is approaching, and many taxpayers are looking for a professional tax preparer to get through a smooth tax preparation process. The professionals who have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number can be candidates for hiring as tax return preparers. Tax preparers differ in the perspective of skills, expertise, and education. Therefore, you need to choose the best ones because you are the only responsible person for the information in your return, no matter who prepares it for you. This article will provide a checklist to help you choose the best tax preparer for the coming filing season.

Here is the checklist to help taxpayers choose a tax preparer for the upcoming filing season:

1- Remember to ask for PTIN

According to the IRS, anyone who helps prepare federal tax returns must have a PTIN, which stands for Preparer Tax Identification Number. Volunteer tax preparers who don’t receive any money for their job won’t require PTIN. Therefore, the PTIN number of the tax preparer must be on your tax return according to IRS requirements.

2- A tax preparer must be a CPA, law-licensed attorney, or an enrolled agent

It is easy to get a PTIN, and you need to go further to choose a perfect tax preparer who can help during tax preparation. This professional must be a CPA, a law-licensed attorney, or an enrolled agent; the individuals who have passed the IRS Annual Filing Season program are also eligible for this position. These credentials require various levels of education and testing, so you can only trust people with these requirements.

3- Tax preparers who are in high places can be helpful

Suppose the tax preparer is a member of a professional organization like the National Association of Tax Professionals. In that case, it will be a good thing to have in a tax preparer because these individuals are more aware of codes of ethics, professional requirements, and more. If you have financial advisors, they can easily connect you with a professional tax preparer.

4- Pay attention to tax preparers’ fees

Tax preparers charge fees for what they do, and you need to compare these fees for various reasons. These professionals usually charge a minimum fee plus cost according to the difficulty level of your tax return. Some will charge a set fee for every form and schedule required to prepare your return. Tax preparers who want fees based on the amount of your return or those who promise a bigger refund are hazardous, and you need to keep these red flags in mind.

5- Reconsider the tax preparers who don’t use the e-file system

According to the IRS, it is required for paid preparers who do more than ten returns for customers to use the e-file system. If your professional doesn’t offer this system, that might be a sign that the person doesn’t do many tax preparations, which is a red flag, and you must reconsider your tax preparer.

6- The paid preparers must sign on the dotted line

It is a legal requirement for paid preparers to sign the clients’ returns or offer their PTIN numbers. Don’t sign a blank return because the preparer can do anything, like putting their bank account number on your return and stealing your refund. So, various scams are available around you, and preventive measures are fundamental.

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7- Check if your preparer can constantly support you

It would be best if you had support from your preparer in issues like audits, payments, and appeals. Only enrolled agents, CPAs, and attorneys with PTIN numbers can provide enough support for you in front of the IRS. Paid preparers who have only completed the Annual Filing Season Program and preparers who have PTIN can provide limited support, and they won’t represent you in all circumstances.

8- Availability is also essential

Availability is an important issue to keep in mind. The best tax preparers are the professionals who take your calls and reply to your emails, even after the filing season. You can trust the honesty and commitment of these pro preparers with you after your tax return is history. Consider whether these pro individuals or firms would be around you after filing. Sometimes, you need the preparer to answer some questions about the preparation process in later stages.

How can you check the credentials of these professionals?

You can check the credentials of your tax preparer through the IRS website. The IRS has a directory of federal tax return preparers, and this helps you find the best preparers with credentials. Many tax preparers also belong to professional organizations, so that you can check their history and performance.

Can I have a complaint with a tax preparer?

The answer is yes, and tax preparer fraud is one of the common tax scams available to taxpayers. The IRS provides tips in this regard, and the organization is committed to inspecting the preparers’ misconduct and improper behaviors. If a tax preparer has fiscally impacted you, make a complaint through this link.

Can I substitute tax preparers with software?

The answer is no; even professionals can make serious mistakes if they only rely on software. An excellent tax preparer is a must-be to get through a smooth tax preparation process. Don’t always think about the prices of these professionals because the money you pay in the short term can save you lots of cash in the future. Tax issues are complicated, and the level of complexity is high, so ordinary people can’t keep themselves updated with the changes in codes and regulations.

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