Choosing a Tax Preparer

Feb. 10, 2014 – TaxTalk Blog

It’s early in February, but April 15 will be here before we know it. If you’ve been putting off your taxes because they are complicated this year (maybe you moved residences a few times, went through a divorce, or started a new business), your best option might be to enlist the assistance of a trustworthy tax preparer.

Although there are many helpful and reputable tax preparers out there, be sure to choose your tax preparer wisely. Remember, you are legally responsible for what is on your tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. So, it is important to find a qualified tax professional.

A good place to start looking for a local tax preparer is through the Indiana CPA Society or the Indiana Society of Enrolled Agents .
Here are some things to look for when choosing a preparer:

  • Find a preparer who will be around to answer questions after the tax return has been filed and responds to their clients in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Find out what the preparer’s service fees are before the tax return is prepared, and avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of your refund.
  • Ask people you know who have used that preparer and find out if they were satisfied with the services they received.
  • Ask any preparer you are considering for references.
  • Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs, or the state’s bar association for attorneys.
  • Check to see if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
  • Check to see if the preparer has a proper Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has been required to file federal tax returns since 2011.
  • Check to see if the IRS has not obtained a permanent injunction prohibiting the preparer from preparing federal tax returns.

Once you’ve found the tax preparer for you, be sure to:

  • Review the tax return and ask questions before you sign or authorize it to be filed electronically.
  • Question entries you don’t understand, and never sign a blank tax return.
  • Have the preparer provide you a copy of your tax return for your records.
  • Insist the preparer sign the tax return and provide appropriate preparer information on the return.

Deciding whom to choose to prepare and file your taxes is more than half the battle. And, you’ve got until April 15 to get it done. Just don’t put off filing too long!

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