In January of each year people are thinking about their taxes and who is going to prepare their tax return. When moving to new area this is particularly a challenge to decide who to trust with your financial and personal information. In these times of identity theft, it is vital to make a wise choice to ensure your information is secure and the office is taking data security measures. Here are some suggestions on how to select a tax preparer:
- Check the Prepare's Qualifications -- Is the preparer an EA (Enrolled Agent) or a CPA? You can check the IRS Directory for the preparers qualifications.
- Check online reviews -- What are clients saying about the tax preparers work?
- Ask about data security -- Does the office have a security system? Are computers secure with passwords and data encryption? Is client information store in locked file cabinets and locked desk drawers?
- Ask about fees -- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.
- Ask to E-file -- Make sure the preparer electronically files tax returns. This is the fastest way to get your refund.
- Is the preparer available all year? -- You may need assistance after April 15. Avoid fly by night preparers.
- Provide Records and Receipts -- Good preparers will ask to see your records to verify income and expenses
- Never sign a blank return -- You should never sign a blank tax form
- Review before signing -- You should should feel comfortable with the accuracy of your tax return
- Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN -- By law a paid preparer must sign and include their Preparer Tax Identification Number on the the tax return
Having the right tax professional is vital. No matter who prepares your tax return the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return.