How To Choose a Tax Preparer

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Here are Ten Tips for Taxpayers to remember when selecting a Tax Preparer

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Check the Preparer’s Qualifications

Check the Preparer’s History

  • Ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer.
  • Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers.
  • For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy.
  • For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association.
  • For Enrolled Agents, go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory.

Ask about Service Fees

  • Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition.

  • When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information. 

Ask to E-File

  • Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file.

  • The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit.

Make Sure the Preparer is Available

  • Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 17 due date.

  • Avoid fly-by-night preparers.

Provide Records and Receipts

  • Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts.

  • They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.

Never Sign a Blank Return

  • Don’t use a tax preparer who asks a taxpayer to sign a blank tax form.

Review Before Signing

  • Before signing a tax return, review it. Ask questions if something is not clear.

  • Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it.

  • They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account.

  • Review the routing and bank account number on the completed return.

  • The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.

Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN

  • All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number.

  • By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.

Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS

  • Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest.

  • Report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS.

  • Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.

  • If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.
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