Tax Time is round the corner. In next two months a lot of taxpayers would be looking for a good preparer who can not only do their tax returns, but guide them and help them properly plan to save taxes. Now is the time to talk to a prospective tax preparer and sync up and share your tax situation for TY 2015. In tax season most of the preparers are busy and they work on stringent timelines as April 15 clock is clicking. It is very important that you make your decision wise as even though a tax preparer is preparing your taxes, you are responsible to ensure that all the information is included in your return.
Here are some tips that would help you select the right preparer.
- Ethics – Talk to the preparer and get an understanding of their ethics by knowing on how they would treat certain tax situations. Check on what measures they take to safe guard your data. Also if needed ask for 2-3 referrals of their existing clients who will share their experience working with the tax preparer.
- Fees – Do not ever pay a preparer % of refund as their compensation. Also avoid preparers who say they can get a larger refund than other preparers. Also ensure that the refund is deposited in to your bank account and not in to preparer’s account.
- Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number (PTIN) – Ensure that the preparer you select uses their PTIN on the tax returns they prepare. PTIN has to be renewed by tax preparers every year with the IRS and is mandatory to be used on the tax returns.
- Research Preparer’s History – For the status of Enrolled Agent’s license, check with IRS Office of Enrollment (Enrolled Agents are licensed by IRS and are specifically trained in federal tax planning, preparation and representation). For Certified Public Accountant, verify the state board of accountancy, for attorneys, check with the state bar association.
- E-Filing – Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than ten tax returns generally must file returns electronically.
- Tax Records – Good preparers will ask to see records and receipts. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file a return using the latest pay stub instead of Form W-2. This is against IRS-efile rules.
- Preparer availability after filing due date – This may be helpful if questions come up about the tax return or audit notices after the tax return has been filed.
- Review the tax returns and ask questions before signing – Taxpayers are responsible for what is on their tax returns, regardless of someone else prepared it. Make sure it is accurate before signing it.
- Never sign a blank tax return – If a taxpayer signs a blank return the preparer could then put anything they want on the return – even their own bank account number for the tax refund.
- Preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN – The preparer must also give the taxpayer a copy of the return.
Tax Return Preparer Credentials and Qualifications
Any tax professional with an IRS PTIN is authorized to prepare federal tax returns. However, tax professionals have different levels of education, expertise and skills.
An important difference in the types of practitioner is ‘representation rights’. Enrolled Agents, CPAs and Attorneys have unlimited representation rights before the IRS. Tax professionals with these credentials may represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment / collection issues, and appeals.
Who are Enrolled Agents? Why should I depend on them for my tax preparation and planning needs?
Enrolled Agents – Licensed by the IRS. Enrolled Agents are subject to suitability check and must pass a three-part Special Enrollment Exam, which is a comprehensive exam that requires them to demonstrate proficiency in Federal Tax Planning, Individual and Business Tax Preparation and Representation. They must complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years.
Call us today at 770.682.3119 for all your tax filing needs.