Tax season is just around the corner (seriously, just one quarter left in 2019!) and it’s time to get down to business. Call us crazy, but we prefer the term proactive. You can roll your eyes at us now or thank us later. One of the first things to do is find a good, reliable tax preparer that you can trust. As always, please contact us for a list of recommended qualified and trusted tax preparers. Some questions to ask when looking for a tax preparer…
Are they well established in their community?
This is simply checking to see if they have been in practice long enough to have reliable credibility. They should have a PTIN, Preparer Tax Identification Number. To have this number, they need to have one of these three things: a CPA, a law license, or be an Enrolled Agent with the IRS. If they have a PTIN, they should be legitimate.
Do they have other clients like you?
What you’re trying to find out is if they’re familiar with your type of business, whatever it may be. Will you be their first in the field, or are they experienced with many similar clients?
Are they willing to work with you throughout the year for strategic tax planning?
Basically you’re finding out if this is a one-time tax season thing, or if they’ll be working with you throughout the year. If you’d like more help throughout the year strategizing, it would be a good idea to work with just one tax preparer (versus one during tax time and another during the year).
How are they charging you?
You should be charged based on the time it takes to complete your tax documents, and the complexity of the process. If they try to charge you based on the amount of your return, DO NOT PAY.
Are they claiming to offer you a bigger return than you were told somewhere else?
Some tax preparers may be more experienced with the process and know of some loopholes to get you more on your return than someone else may. If they insist they will get you bigger tax return than you were previously told, BEWARE. The tax laws are just that - laws. Stretching the law to get more money back could result in an audit letter from the IRS - and it’s not going to have your tax preparer’s name on it, it’s going to be yours.
How will they be giving you your tax return documents?
They should offer you an efile of your return documents, and they should sign that they were your tax preparer.Their signature states they are willing to represent you in the event of an IRS audit because they prepared your taxes for you.
When meeting with tax preparers, use your gut instinct and ask questions. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You can always walk away and get help from another legitimate and safe tax preparer.