You can often avoid tax problems early on if you select a competent tax preparer. This post is based on “IRS Tax Tip 2012-06″ published by the IRS earlier today.
The title given by the IRS was “Ten Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer,” but I think you will agree that this is not an accurate title. I think the author started off listing tax preparer selection tips, then ran out of suggestions by #8 or so, but really wanted to have a nice round 10 items on the list. Not that numbers 8-10 are bad suggestions, they just don’t exactly qualify as things you can do to help you choose a tax preparer. Numbers 8 and 9 will probably come into play only after a bad tax preparer has been hired. And number 10 has nothing to do with selecting a tax preparer other than the fact that you most likely would not select an abusive tax preparer two years in a row.
Here’s the list in abbreviated form:
- Check the tax preparer’s qualifications: PTIN, certifications, professional organizations, etc.
- Check the tax preparer’s history: get on the internet and poke around a little
- Find out as much information as you can about their fees
- Make sure they will file electronically
- Make sure the tax preparer is accessible
- Make sure the tax preparer asks you enough questions and asks for enough information/documentation to be able to legitimately prepare your return
- Never sign a blank return
- Review the return before you sign it (you are ultimately responsible for what is on the return, even if you get a professional to prepare it)
- Make sure the tax preparer signs the return and includes his/her PTIN
- Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS