You investigated the types of tax pros and have determined which one best fits your needs.
Now it's time to get specific and check out the guy or gal you want to hire to do your taxes.
Today's Daily Tax Tip offers some suggestions on how to do just that.
Make sure the pro is registered: Individuals who prepare 1040s for pay now must meet Internal Revenue Service requirements for federal tax return preparers. Once they pass the IRS test, they will be designated as Registered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP).
The RTRP rule is waived for attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents, who meet standards set by their respective professional organizations. But if you aren't hiring one of these tax pros, then make sure the person you will pay to do your taxes is a RTRP.
Who's complaining? Check your state's board of accountancy for CPAs, your state's bar association for attorneys or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility for Enrolled Agents.If your state licenses or registers tax preparers, contact that regulatory office, too, for possible complaints or comments. And don't forget the Better Business Bureau.
Membership matters: Does your tax preparer belong to professional organizations? Professional groups usually require their members to follow a code of ethics and participate in continuing education programs.
On the clock: April 15 is the big tax day, but tax tasks don't end there so you'll want to make sure your tax preparer will be around whenever you need help. If you need to file an amended return or the IRS has some questions, you'll want your tax pro around.
Seek a tax nag: Reputable tax preparers want answers and lots of them. And if you don't provide them, they will ask and ask and ask yet again, for answers to questions that determine your tax break qualifications, as well as for receipts and other proof that you're eligible to claim deductions and credits.
Remember, it's always better to provide your tax pro, who's working for your tax benefit, with answers than it is to face the same questions from an IRS examiner.
Sharing your taxes: Will your tax pro actually be doing your taxes, or will a junior associate in the firm be filling out your forms? If so, make sure that the people who will working on your taxes also meet your needs and standards. And if personal service is important to you, you might want to go with a smaller tax office or a sole proprietor.
Get the fee facts: Does the tax preparer you're about to hire base his or her fee on the size of your refund? Then get another tax pro. Such a fee structure could be a tip-off that tax claims will be aggressive in order to get you more refund money just so the preparer can make more, too.
Also avoid preparers who promise you a larger refund than other tax pros. If your returns are prepared correctly, the tax and refund numbers by all should be essentially the same.
And never go with a tax pro who wants you to sign a blank return. Never sign a tax document before it is completed and then not until you've read it carefully and understand the entries.
Remember, when you sign your 1040 you the taxpayer are responsible for what's on it regardless of who fills out the return and transmits it to the IRS.
Most tax professionals are honest and provide quality service. But as with any consumer transaction, it's up to you to hire the best professional.
So take the time to thoroughly check out your tax preparer.
Photo © Stephen Uber / Uberphotos / iStock
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