IRS Offers Advice on Interacting with Tax Preparers

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:

  1. Check the tax preparer’s qualifications: PTIN, certifications, professional organizations, etc.
  2. Check the tax preparer’s history: get on the internet and poke around a little
  3. Find out as much information as you can about their fees
  4. Make sure they will file electronically
  5. Make sure the tax preparer is accessible
  6. Make sure the tax preparer asks you enough questions and asks for enough information/documentation to be able to legitimately prepare your return
  7. Never sign a blank return
  8. 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)
  9. Make sure the tax preparer signs the return and includes his/her PTIN
  10. Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS

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