When choosing someone to help you prepare and file your taxes, you may be wondering exactly what criteria you should consider. How do you find someone to forge a professional relationship with for your needs? What questions should you ask, and what factors should you take into account when making your decision? Below, we discuss five important things to consider when you choose a tax preparer.
Their Specific Tax Experience
Though every person's tax situation is unique, having a tax preparer with experience in handling returns similar to yours may be a plus. If you're just launching your small business, you may benefit from someone whose clients consist mostly of other fledgling businesses, as they're likely to be most familiar with the credits and deductions available to you. If you own rental houses or have recently received an inheritance, ask some questions of your potential tax preparer to see how many similar situations they've dealt with recently.
Their Fee Structure
It's important for you and your tax preparer to be on the same page when it comes to the fees. By asking fee questions upfront and getting answers in writing, you may be better able to compare the cost of services from several tax preparers to select the one that works best for you.
What Records and Documentation They'll Need—and When They'll Need It
To help you meet your tax deadlines, your tax preparer may have their own deadlines by which you need to provide all necessary information. If you tend to procrastinate, avoid a tax preparer who expects you to submit your tax documents by early February. If you're not keen on the idea of having to file an extension request, choose someone who expects you to have your documents in order quickly.
Whether They'll E-File Your Return
If you're expecting a hefty refund, you may want to e-file to receive it sooner. And even if you expect to owe the IRS, the ability to e-file instead of mailing a paper return may make it much easier to track the process and have your payment credited quickly. If a tax preparer charges more for e-filing or seems reluctant to step away from paper filing, consider whether the convenience of e-filing is worth looking elsewhere.
Whether They'll Sign Your Return
Your federal income tax return has a section that asks whether anyone helped the taxpayer complete the return. If your tax preparer has a PTIN from the IRS but is unable (or unwilling) to sign the return, this may be a red flag indicating that they don't stand behind their work. Asking at the outset whether your preparer is willing to sign your return may help you avoid investing time and money into an arrangement that could put you at risk.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
This article was prepared by WriterAccess.
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