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10 Things You Need to Check Before Choosing a Tax Preparer

10 Things You Need to Check Before Choosing a Tax Preparer


By: Oana Schneider

10 Things You Need to Check Before Choosing a Tax Preparer

Your favorite BBB would like to remind everyone that taxpayers are the ones responsible for all the information provided on their income tax return, regardless of who the tax preparer is. This means that choosing the right tax preparer is extremely important. The IRS suggests the following tips when looking for help filing your taxes this year:

Check your preparer’s qualifications

For this purpose, you can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers. This should give you enough information regarding specific qualifications and a complete list of potential candidates.

The preparer’s history is very important

Ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer’s track record: have they had any complaints, reviews, are they accredited by the BBB? You can also check with the State Board of Accountancy for CPAs and with the State Bar Association for attorneys.

Know the service fees ahead of time

Try to avoid preparers that ask for a percentage of your tax refund, choose someone with good credentials who tells you exactly what their fees are. When asking a preparer about their fees, don’t give out any kind of personal information, such as social security number or tax documents. It’s not necessary and it shouldn’t have anything to do with their fees.

Ask to e-file

Make sure your tax preparer offers IRS e-file. Filing your federal tax electronically and using direct deposits is the best and fastest way to get your refund.

Check your preparer’s availability

Contact your tax preparer ahead of time and make sure to avoid fly-by-night preparers.

Provide records and receipts

Your preparer will ask you to provide records and receipts in order to understand your total income, tax deductions and credits.

Don’t sign a blank return!

If a tax preparer asks you to sign a blank tax form, refuse immediately and find someone else to help you with your taxes!

Review everything before signing

Read and understand everything before signing the document. Ask questions if you don’t understand something and make sure everything is spelled correctly. Also, your tax refund should go to you, not your tax preparer’s bank account, so review routing number and bank account number on the completed return. NOTE: your tax preparer should provide you with a copy of this document!

Make sure the preparer signs the document and includes their PTIN

All tax preparer must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number and by law they are required to provide this number and sign all the tax documents they file.

Abusive tax preparers? Report them to the IRS!

Most tax preparers are honest and trustworthy. However, if you come across an abusive tax preparer, you can report them to the IRS, using Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect that the tax preparer may have changed your return without your consent, you can file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

PRO TIP: If you’ve been affected by the Equifax data breach, try filing your tax return as soon as possible, to avoid ID theft!!

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Oana Schneider is our Director of Media Services. She writes consumer and business oriented articles and is in charge of our community outreach program.