Courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service
Taxpayers who pay someone to do their taxes should choose a preparer wisely. If you choose to use a paid tax preparer, it is important that you find a qualified tax professional. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for everything on their return even when it’s prepared by someone else
The most reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you multiple questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses, deductions, and other items. By doing so, they have your best interest in mind and are trying to help you avoid penalties, interest, or additional taxes that could result from later IRS contacts.
While most tax return preparers are professional and honest, taxpayers can use the following tips to choose a preparer who will offer the best service for their tax preparation needs.
• Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, or those who guarantee a refund or base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
• Plan Ahead. Choose a preparer you will be able to contact after the return is filed and one who will be responsive to your needs.
• Get References. Ask questions and get references from clients who have used the tax professional before. Were they satisfied with the service received?
• Research. Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association for attorneys. Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
• Determine if the preparer’s credentials meet your needs. Does your state have licensing or registration requirements for paid preparers? Is he or she an Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, or Attorney? If so, the preparer can represent taxpayers before the IRS on all matters – including audits, collections, and appeals. Other return preparers can represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return signed as a preparer.
You can report suspected tax fraud and abusive tax preparers to the IRS on Form 3949-A, Information Referral or by sending a letter to Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. Download Form 3949-A from IRS.gov or order by mail at 800-829-3676.
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