10 Steps to Ensure You Choose the Right Tax Preparer


It’s that time of year again; tax time.  Filers expecting a refund are thrilled when this time of year approaches because nothing is as nice as receiving that big check in the mail or that deposit in the bank. For the rest of us, however, tax time is a very expensive and stressful time of year. Those who have very little to do to file a return can easily do it themselves at home with the help of simple tax preparation software. For the rest of us, however, more complicated returns make this nearly impossible. This puts us in a position in which we are forced to choose a tax prep professional that can handle our needs and keep our finances in order. It’s a daunting task to choose a tax preparer – because who wants to hang out with an accountant all day – but it’s a vital first step in prepping your taxes and finances. If you’re in the market for a new tax professional, let us help you choose the right one. Here are 10 pieces of advice you should follow that will make choosing your tax preparer a lot simpler and a lot less stressful.

Ask Yourself What You Want

This is the most important question you will ask of yourself when it comes to choosing someone to prepare your taxes. You will ask yourself whether or not you want a tax accountant or a preparer. Do you want to go to someone’s office and sit down and work with them personally, someone that will allow you to drop off your tax information and then go or do you want a company that has millions working for them across the country that will prepare your returns for you? Once you have the answer to this question, you will be more comfortable looking.

Check Education and Qualifications

You need to know precisely what qualifications your tax preparer has, and they expect you to ask. Ask to see their educational history and their work history if need be. You should know how much experience your preparer has before you commit to work with him or her.

Ask for References

This is vital. This is a person who will be working with your most confidential and private financial information and that is not something you should ever take lightly. In fact, you should ask for multiple references and then call them to find out whether or not they recommend this particular tax preparer to you. This could be a make or break decision in the lives of just about anyone looking for a tax preparer.

Use Word of Mouth

Do you have a friend that loves his or her tax professional? Do you have a family member that has nothing but rave reviews about a particular tax preparer? Do you know someone who would never again use a particular person or company to handle their tax information? While all opinions should be taken with a grain of salt, it does help you to have them in your mind when choosing someone to handle your income taxes.

Meet in Person

You should never allow someone to handle your taxes having never met them in person. This person is handing your important financial documents and information and you should make sure that they are doing this to the best of their abilities. You should meet with the person you want to use and get to know him or her a bit. It gives you a better idea of this person’s business practices and personality.

Check the Fees

You do need to know this. Price plays a large role in the choosing of a tax professional, and that’s an important consideration. Know what you’re being charged, how you are being charge and what you should do when you are charged incorrectly or you don’t feel you are being charged enough. The price you are being charge should give you a good indication whether or not you are you working with someone worthwhile.

Ask about Turnaround Time

This is another important question to ask. Do you want your return done right away? Do you care? Do you want it done prior to April 15 or do you care if your preparer files an extension on your behalf? This is all pertinent information you must gather if you want to have you return done the correct way. The answers you receive will have a different impact on each taxpayer, and that’s why it’s up to you to make this decision.

Ask for Details

You need to know everything that your tax preparer does when working with your income tax information. For example, how does he or she store your personal information? Who has access to your personal information once it’s been left at the office? There are so many questions you should ask that you need to know the answers to, and don’t leave until you have the answers to these questions.

Go with Your Gut

What you feel and what you think once you meet with a tax professional is important. This is the feeling you get when meeting with someone that’s going to help you determine whether or not this is the person with whom you want to work. This feeling might be off, but it probably is not. If your gut instinct is that your tax professional is not up to par, don’t feel bad not working with him or her. Your job is to choose the person with whom you feel most comfortable making financial decisions and that’s not something you should think unimportantly about when it comes to your tax.

Ask for Audit Defense

One of the most important things you can do for yourself when finding a tax accountant is to ask for audit defense. You’re going to want to ask about how your accountant or tax preparer is going to help you when it comes to your taxes and any potential auditing that might occur in the future. You want the best protection possible.

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