Choosing the Right Tax Preparer

Picking that Special Someone for Tax Season

Tax season is just around the corner and before you know it, your W-2 form will arrive in the mail. In just a few months, it’ll be April 15, and if you don’t have one already, you’ll need a qualified and skilled tax preparer to help with your tax return.

Don’t choose your preparer hastily. While he or she may do all the math, you’ll be responsible for what gets submitted to the IRS. Make sure to do your due diligence so you don’t end up on the IRS’s radar.

Make sure to use these tips when choosing your tax preparer:

  • Get references: The best source of information on a tax preparer is a customer. Ask enough questions to determine the preparer’s competence.
  • Research: Just like you wouldn’t want to loan your car to a bad driver, you wouldn’t want to entrust your financial information to an unscrupulous tax preparer. Check for questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, your state’s governing board for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) and the state bar association.
  • Be skeptical: Watch out for preparers who promise unrealistically high refunds compared to other preparers. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Find the right preparer for you: This depends on your needs. Some preparers can represent you before the IRS in audits regarding a return they signed as a preparer. If the preparer is an Enrolled Agent, CPA or tax attorney, then they can represent you for all matters, including audits, collection actions and appeals.
  • Approve what’s in your return: If a preparer asks you to sign a blank return or submit false information to get a bigger refund, choose another preparer. Remember: you’re responsible for what’s submitted to the IRS, so don’t be held responsible for any law breaking.

Hiring and using the wrong tax preparer can bring you a boatload of IRS legal trouble. If you submit an inaccurate return, the IRS can take legal action against you and possibly seize your assets with a wage garnishment. Make sure to hire a tax attorney so you can settle and rebuild your finances.

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