It’s tax season. Did you just shiver?
Filing tax returns on your own can be – to put it lightly – a nightmare. Luckily, you can hire a tax preparer to do it all for you.
A tax professional will not only take care of the calculations and administrative tasks needed for filing a return on time, but is well-versed in tax reform laws, ways to catch tax breaks, and deadlines. Sounds great – but it can be easy to fall for the lofty promises of fraudulent preparers and compromise your financial information. Check for these six qualities to make sure your tax pro is qualified and the best for you:
1. A Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN): Anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation is required to have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A PTIN helps to track a return preparer in case of fraud, so make this a priority on your checklist.
2. Qualifications and creds: Don’t know where to look for a tax pro? Qualified tax preparers with a PTIN can be found in the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers. In this directory, you can also search through professional credentials (e.g. Enrolled Agents and Attorneys) or those who have obtained an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion from the IRS.
3. A good track record: Even if you choose from the IRS directory, check the preparer’s background, history, and reputation before moving forward. Here are some reputable sites to do conduct that research:
- Better Business Bureau
- Federal Trade Commission
- National Association of State Board of Accountancy (for CPAs)
- State Bar Association (for attorneys)
- IRS’s “Verify the Status of an Enrolled Agent” (for enrolled agents)
4. Fee structure (and amounts): Scammers often base their service fee on a percentage of the client’s refund. To increase their fee, they manipulate information on your tax return for a bigger refund. That spells trouble for you down the road with the IRS. Avoid return preparers who use this refund-based rate or charge a hidden fee after being hired. Trust your instincts – if it seems too good to be true, it is. By signing the tax return, you take full responsibility for the information reported.
5. Reliable review process: Your tax preparer must include their PTIN and sign the return before handing it over to you. It’s important that you review your tax return for accuracy and alert the preparer of any possible mistakes. Only sign your return when you are happy with the information reported. If you’re expecting a refund, check the routing and bank account number on the completed return to ensure that it’ll go directly to your bank account (and not the preparer’s).
6. E-filing option: For safe processing of your tax return, make sure the preparer offers e-filing, or the ability to submit online. This will help to limit your exposure to identity theft, as the IRS will alert you if a second return has been filing under your SSN.
Now that you know where to start, it’s time to get hiring and filing. The team at Tax Defense Network knows how to process even the most complicated of individual and business tax returns. All you have to do is provide the appropriate documentation and financial information to your dedicated preparer while we do all the heavy lifting.
Get started today with a free consultation – call 877-588-1098