Posted by Income Taxes and Bookkeeping LLC

Tips to Find the Best Tax Preparer for You

Tips to Find the Best Tax Preparer for You

or everyone who needs help filing their taxes, this is a reliable checklist that can direct you towards the right person. 

Many people love working with a tax preparer to ease the burden of tax preparation, but many hardly know much about selecting the best tax preparer.

A high number of people who use tax preparers never bother to ask about such professionals' credentials, nor do they bother to know if the preparer will stand in for them in an audit. This is shocking, considering that a tax preparer will have access to all your sensitive details like income, bank account, kids, and even your social security number. 

However, here is a valuable guide on how to select the best tax preparer for your needs.

  1. Request for the Tax Identification Number

Uncle Sam specifies that any professional assisting others with preparing their federal tax return as a profession for compensation must have a PTIN. It is essential to note the phrase "for compensation," which means that people preparing tax as volunteers do not need the prepared tax identification number. 

As a result, your income tax return has the PTIN number of your tax preparer, as Uncle Sam mandates it. 

  1. Require a law License or CPA

Anyone can quickly get a PTIN which means it is not the main criteria to judge your choice of a tax preparer. Instead, it is essential to go a step further and consider a certified preparer with the proper credential. Necessary certifications to consider are certified public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent (EA), or someone who already completed the Annual Filing Season Program of Uncle Sam. 

Common examples of such programs are Accredited Tax preparer and Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor, which helps preparers meet the Annual Filing Season program obligation.  

One way to get the best tax preparer with the required credentials is by going through the IRS’s directory. This directory will present preparers having PTIN and all essential credentials recognized by Uncle Sam. Unfortunately, this database does not include volunteer preparers and only those having a PTIN.

  1. Consider Preparers in High Places

We also recommend membership in a professional society like the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the National Association of Tax Professionals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and many others as credentials to look for tax preparation. 

Many of these professional bodies have conduct requirements, codes of ethics, and a series of certification programs that guide their members. 

  1. Compare Fees

What is the average fee of a tax preparer? On average, expect to pay $203 for preparing form 1040, while those who do not use a flat rate could charge up to $138 per hour. 

Typically, you can expect a minimum fee alongside some costs judging by the complexity of the return. For example, such minimum payment might revolve around $160 to $172 or charge a fee for each schedule and form present in your return. 

Beware of tax preparers whose fee is a factor of the size of your refund or who claim they will get you a bigger refund compared to the other preparers. 

  1. Think Twice before using tax Advisor that does not e-file

Uncle Sam expects all professional tax preparers that do over ten tax returns for various clients to use the electronic filing system. As a result, a tax preparer that is not using the e-filing system might not be the best as it is a sign that the person is not doing much. 

  1. Confirm if they will be there for you

Should you have a tax audit, CPAs enrolled agents, attorneys with PTIN can generally represent you before Uncle Sam for collection issues, appeals and others. However, having only PTIN is not enough as it does not authorize them to represent you even if they prepared your return.

Even if they completed the Annual Filing Season Program, where they can represent you is limited. Make sure to check the availability as well. In other words, you need a tax preparer that will take your calls, respond to queries and welcome a visit should you have any issue even after the tax season. 



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