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Tips on How to Choose a Tax Preparer

It’s that time of year again! Many of you are currently choosing a tax preparer to help file your tax return. If you are filing through a tax preparer, it is very important that you choose your preparer wisely. Ultimately, you are responsible for all of the information on your income tax return, no matter who prepares the return.

Here are eight tips for you to remember when selecting a preparer:

1. Check the preparer’s qualifications and history.
Do your research to ensure the preparer you choose is properly qualified and has significant experience providing the services that you are seeking. Make sure they are a Certified Public Accountant or choose a public accounting firm.

2. Ask about service fees.
You should avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers, or other information.

3. Ask to e-file.
You should make sure that your preparer provides the option to e-file. The quickest way for you to get your refund is to electronically file your tax return and use direct deposit.

4. Make sure the preparer is available.
You may want to contact your preparer after this year’s April 15 due date. You should avoid fly-by-night preparers.

5. Have your records and receipts catalogued.
Preparers will ask questions in order to calculate things like the total income, tax deductions, and credits.

6. Never sign a blank return.
If they ask you to sign a blank return, RUN!! You should not use a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank form.

7. Review before signing.
Before signing a tax return, you should review it and ask questions if something is not clear. You should feel comfortable with the accuracy of your return before you sign it. You should also make sure that your refund goes directly to you – not to the preparer’s bank account. Always review that routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.

8. Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN.
All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.

For more information, always consult a Certified Public Accountant. Submitted by: Dennis Gallant, Senior Manager, Tax Services, Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs. To ask Dennis a question, contact him here.

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