Choosing a Tax Preparer

Feb. 16, 2015 – TaxTalk Blog

CPA shaking hands with a coupleAre you putting off filing your taxes this year? For many people, tax season can seem stressful, complicated, and overwhelming. Many taxpayers rely on the expertise and assistance of a trustworthy tax preparer to help them get through tax season.

It is extremely important to find a qualified, reputable tax professional to prepare your taxes. Remember, you are legally responsible for what is on your tax return even if it is prepared by someone else, so choose your tax preparer wisely.

Don’t know where to begin? Here are some things to look for when choosing a tax preparer:

  • Check the person’s qualifications. All paid tax return preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS. Check to see if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
  • Check the preparer’s history. Check the preparer’s history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs, or the state’s bar association for attorneys. Ask people you know who have used the preparer if they were satisfied with the services received.
  • Find out about service fees. Inquire about service fees before the tax return is prepared, and avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of your refund.
  • Make sure the tax preparer is accessible. Find a preparer who will be around to answer questions after the tax return has been filed. Be sure to choose a tax preparer who responds to clients in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Never sign a blank return. Review the completed return and ask questions about entries you don’t understand before you sign or authorize it to be filed electronically. Insist the preparer sign the tax return and provide appropriate preparer information on the return.
  • Keep a copy of your return. Have the preparer provide you a copy of your tax return for your records.

Qualified tax preparers are among the members of the Indiana CPA Society and the Indiana Society of Enrolled Agents.

The Indiana Department of Revenue can help many taxpayers prepare their own returns without the assistance of a paid preparer. Before seeking a paid preparer, taxpayers should determine whether they are eligible to use INfreefile.