How to Choose Professional Tax Services

IRS tip #1 from Carpenter, Evert and Associates – How to make sure you are hiring the right professional tax service to prepare your taxes.

Many people hire professional tax services when it’s time to file their taxes. If you pay someone to prepare your federal income tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that person wisely. Even if you don’t prepare your own return, you’re still legally responsible for what is on it.

Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax service:Taxes - white note with pushpin

1. Check the qualifications of a professional tax service.  All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask the tax service if they belong to a professional organization and attend continuing education classes.

2. Check the history of the tax service.  Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Check for disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state board of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar association. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.

3. Ask about service fees from tax preparers.  Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others can. Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into your bank account. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.

4. Ask to e-file your return.  Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file the returns electronically. IRS has safely processed more than 1.2 billion e-filed tax returns.

5. Make sure the tax preparer is available.  Make sure you’ll be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return – even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions come up about your tax return.

6. Provide records and receipts.  Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts. They’ll ask you questions to determine your total income, deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.

7. Never sign a blank return.  Don’t use a tax preparer that asks you to sign a blank tax form.

8. Review your return before signing.  Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions if something is not clear. Make sure you’re comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.

9. Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN.  Paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

10. Report abusive tax services to the IRS.  You can report abusive tax services and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or changed the return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. You can get these forms at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Additional IRS Resources:

Carpenter, Evert and Associates Top Ten Tax Tips for 2014:

  1. How to Choose Professional Tax Services
  2. Are you Eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit?
  3. Tax Return Information is Now at Your Fingertips  
  4. Don’t Miss Out on Important Tax Credits
  5. Tax Benefits for Parents
  6. How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Your Taxes?
  7. Do you Know Your Tax Filing Status?
  8. What to Know About Declaring your Tips 
  9. Taxable and Nontaxable Income – What’s the Difference? 
  10. Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions

Comments

  1. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to check the tax service’s history. My husband and I are going to be filing our taxes jointly for the first time, and we’re not really sure how that’s going to change the process, so we were thinking that it would be best to hire a professional to help us. Maybe it would be a good idea to check their history before hiring someone so we know they’re going to provide quality and trustworthy services.

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