Taxes can be exceedingly confusing to prepare, and many people
look for help from an expert to make the process easier. But how
do you know which preparer to choose? Most tax preparers are
honest and do their jobs very well. But it is your
responsibility to make sure your taxes are paid accurately and
honestly. You must be very careful and informed about
whom to choose to prepare your taxes.
Video: How to Pick a Tax Professional
Know what to expect
Before you choose a tax preparer, you should be aware of some
general ground rules. First, every paid tax preparer is legally
required to sign his or her name as the preparer of your report
(but remember: you are still responsible for your report’s
accuracy.). When a preparer completes your report, you must
review every last detail to make sure it is accurate. Make sure
no information on the form is left out. Always make signing the
report that last thing you do; only sign a tax return if you are
sure it is complete (and sign it in pen). Make sure you have
signed all your Powers of Attorney forms for tax attorneys.
Finally, checking the Third Party Authorization box on your
return indicates that the IRS can consult your paid preparer if
there is any issue that needs to be resolved.
Find a tax preparer who is prepared
Make sure you are aware of all those rights before you look for
a tax preparer, and that your preparer is too. If your tax
preparer is unqualified, you may have problems with your tax
reports, problems that you will be responsible for. This could
lead to penalties, extra debt, and unnecessary interest.
Additionally, there are
reduced fee tax services available for low-income, elderly, and military families.
Remember: no preparer can save you money
Some tax preparers will claim they can reduce your tax debt or
give you credits. But no preparer can change the amount you owe.
These preparers may not be trustworthy, so avoid them. If a tax
preparer claims to guarantee a result, he is being dishonest. It
is also illegal and unethical to charge a commission based on
the amount of debt you owe. This is called a contingent fee and
stay away from it.
Always communicate with your preparer
If a tax preparer asks you constant questions about your income
and expenses, asks to see receipts, and requests explanations of
your deductions, don’t be afraid: this is a sign of a good tax
preparer. Your relationship with a tax preparer depends on trust
and full disclosure. Your tax preparer should always be ready to
answer any questions you have and resolve any issues. Make sure
you know your tax preparer on an individual basis: his name, and
where he can be reached.
Be aware of unethical practices
Video: Choose a Reputable Tax Preparer
Of course, some companies have histories of unethical practices.
You can consult the records of the
Better Business Bureau to see if any tax preparer has had reported incidents of
abuse. Check to see if your tax preparer is familiar with all
your local state, county and city tax guidelines (currently,
California and Oregon are the only states that regulate tax
Honesty is still the best policy
Of course, tax schemes, abusers, and unregulated companies are
IRS.gov provides a list of all widespread signs
of abuse and new scams. If you are prepared, you need not worry
about these problems. Know your rights, know what to look out
for, and choose your tax preparer carefully. Remember: trust is
Reputable Tax Preparers:
H & R Block
1 800 472 5625
Jason Hewitt Tax Service
1 800 234 1040
Premier Tax Solution
866 482 9735
Titan Tax Relief
1 800 498 9705
Jeffrey Segall CPA
New York, New York
212 302 0560