Who is a Certified Tax Preparer and How to Choose One? If you are often involved in taxes, you are likely to file and prepare any type of tax easily. On the other hand, these tasks sound daunting for those who have never done these before. The best solution is to hire a certified tax preparer who can do these tasks professionally.
In the market, you may find many types of tax return experts, including attorneys, registered agents, certified public accountants, and many more. Regardless of the choice, you need to hire a reliable and skilled service. It is because you also need to provide him with your personal information.
The information includes the details of your finances like your social security numbers, kids, income, and marriage. The good news is most tax experts can give the best helps to their clients. That doesn’t mean there are no bad services! If you choose this service wrongly, you may suffer financially.
Know What You Need the Most
Finding the right certified tax preparer should not be troublesome. You only need to focus on what you want and know what kind of tax expert that you need. It is because everyone can be this expert, as long as having a PTIN or identification number. One thing, tax experts indeed have distinct skill levels, expertise, and education. Thus, choosing the right one requires some effort.
That means you should learn more about their qualifications and credentials. The simplest way is to get information on the VITA program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The purpose is to check a tax expert’s credentials. This can be done by checking the pro organizations many tax experts belong to.
How to Choose the Best Tax Preparer
There are some efforts to involve when picking the right certified tax preparer. Follow the information below to help you choose one:
1. E-file is a must
When choosing a tax expert, you should pick one that does e-file. It is because the IRS requires any tax preparers who do tens of returns for clients to file via the IRS’s e-file system. That means this task is recommended to be sent electronically when there are many of them. On the other hand, tax experts who don’t do this are considered not professional. That means you should avoid them.
2. Ask for their identification number
A reliable and professional certified tax preparer should have a PTIN or Preparer Tax Identification Number. The IRS requires anyone who works in that field to have this number. Only volunteer tax preparers don’t need one. So, you should ensure that your tax expert puts his PTIN on your return. Not only do you need it, but the IRS also requires that.
3. Comparing fees
The next consideration is related to the fees. That means you should find out how much this service charges. Here is important information. The average fee to prepare a non-itemized Form 1040 several years ago was $220. This price increases if you decide to prepare an itemized form instead, which was $323.
Usually, a certified tax preparer would charge the minimum fee. There is an additional fee if the task is complex. Some also separate the fee based on each schedule and form of your tax return. Don’t trust those who can guarantee a bigger refund than others. That’s a scam!
4. Choose one who signs
The next thing to pay attention to when choosing a tax expert is related to the signing. You should make sure that he would provide enough information regarding his expertise when signing the tax return. Simply said, you must avoid a blank tax return.
5. Ask regarding his support
The next thing that you should do is to check if your tax expert would have your back. A professional and reliable certified tax preparer can represent you in front of the IRS on collection issues, payments, appeals, and audits. Only those who have completed the AFS program can do that.
6. The availability
This aspect is also important when you are looking for a tax expert. This service would be always available regardless of your tax return status. That means you should be able to call and meet him even after the filing season ends. It doesn’t have to be a meeting per se. At least, you should be able to get his help from the internet.
The Red Flags when Choosing a Certified Tax Preparer
Above, there are some tips you can use for finding the best tax expert. So, is there any prohibition or red flags? When you have determined the type of expert you want to use, make sure you avoid those who can cause problems and disadvantages to you. You can avoid them by looking at some suspicious behaviors.
1. Giving refunds warranty
This is quite suspicious. You should avoid those who guarantee refunds or no tax liability. All things that sound too good to be true are bad.
2. Charging fees based on a tax refund size
This is not okay because it violates the ethics code to which tax experts should adhere.
3. Offering you cash refund checks
If a certified tax preparer does this thing, he would become subject to penalties. It is because making an offer to handle refund checks is a big no when you need to hire a tax preparer.
4. Preparing returns without permission
Do you know that signing a tax return without seeing documentation is prohibited? Any tax pro should not do this.
At this point, you should have learned how useful a certified tax preparer is. However, it is likely not all people need this service. Help from a tax professional suits those who are not used to the tax system.
On the other hand, you would not need it if you can handle tax returns alone, especially if you have enough skills, experience, and knowledge to do that tax. The best thing is that you have time to do it.
If you are quite busy and know nothing about taxes, hiring a certified tax preparer is a good idea. The problem is that you must pick the right service. Use the information in this article to help you find the right service that you need. Good luck!