Tax time quickly approaching. You may be considering using a tax professional to make sure that your taxes are prepared timely and accurately and to help you navigate the ever-changing complexities of our tax code. If so, here are some important tips that you should know.
All legitimate tax preparers are required to register with the Internal Revenue Service and obtain a PTIN, or a preparer tax ID number. But still, this does not mean that all tax preparers are qualified to handle your specific tax needs.
Certified public accountants, enrolled agents, and attorneys are suggested by experts as your safest way to go as these professionals are highly educated and require many hours of training and continuing education to stay abreast of the new tax law developments. I recommend beginning your search for a tax professional by tapping into your resources; your network of family and friends by asking who they use and if they’re happy with their services. You can also go online to the American Society of Accountants or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, both of which have a directory on their website to help you get linked up with a professional in your area.
Once you find the names of a couple of tax experts, take action now and give them a call. Here are some questions to ask:
- Are they taking on new clients.
- What is their availability.
- What is their fee schedule.
- Do they charge by the hour, by the form, or a flat rate?
- Do they have a niche or a specialty for which they provide tax services?
You can find a full list of questions to ask them on the website for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Be sure to research your prospective tax professional by checking with the Better Business Bureau, the State Boards of Accountancy, or even googling their name for some potential online reviews.
Everyone wants to get their taxes done quickly and painlessly, but here are a few tips of things not to do. Don’t agree to pay contingency fees. This means that your preparer is electing to charge you fees based on your refund. In our industry, that is unethical. Don’t procrastinate and do ask questions. Don’t sign your tax return blindly. A paid preparer, by law, is required to sign your tax return and provide their PTIN, but you are ultimately responsible for the results and accuracy of your tax return. Ask questions; insist that they review the return with you, including all of the schedules before you sign the return.
For more information, visit my website at www.actservices-inc.com