How to Choose a Tax Preparer

Each year, between 10% and 25% of Americans choose to file personal income taxes with the help of a paid tax preparer. For business owners, the percentage is more than 50%. Whether you take receipts and tax forms to a tax preparation company, an independent CPA or tax attorney, or enlist the help of a tax-savvy friend, it is important to choose your preparer wisely. According to the IRS, if a tax payer is a victim of fraud by a tax preparer, the tax payer is still liable for any back taxes owed.

If checking the yellow pages for local tax help, look under CPA, Tax Attorneys, or Tax Preparation. If you are responding to a classified advertisement for tax services, make sure the person has some credentials. This could be as minimal as degree in accounting, finance, business, law, or math. Or it could be a more substantial credential, such as a valid CPA license or a license to practice law.

The person you pay to prepare your taxes should have some verifiable expertise with numbers and the US tax code, not to mention a few years of experience. Don't feel shy about interviewing several candidates for the job.

Make sure that the credentials are real and double check with the BBB or IRS to make sure the person is not on any blacklist. Many fraudulent tax preparers can still get clients because people simply don't investigate a tax professional's background.

Be wary of any tax preparer who says that he can get you more tax refund money than other tax preparers or software. There are no secret tricks or formulas to getting a bigger refund. Tax returns that are filed according to the rules should have the same numbers no matter who prepares them.

Be wary of a tax preparer who doesn't ask you too many questions about your finances. If he or she is filling out the forms correctly, he or she will have several questions ask to see your receipts and other documents.

Remember that you are responsible for the accuracy of the information on your tax forms. Even though your preparer must also sign the documents, you should double check to make sure everything looks in order. If you are satisfied with your tax preparation help, refer your friends and family members to the same service.

© Had2Know 2010