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How to (Really) Choose a Tax Preparer

By Edited Sep 1, 2016 0 0

There is information in books and on websites that tell you to choose them to prepare your taxes. How do you know that they will perform the job, not only to your satisfaction, i.e, cheaply, with the biggest refund you've ever thought up, but more importantly, legally? Anyone can make up income to increase or decrease a refund or balance due but what is the end result to the client? An audit? A CP 2000, an examination, or a CP 5 letter? These are not what you want at the end of the day. Taking a cue from irs.gov and past experience, here is what you really need from a tax preparer:

1. Answers-If your tax preparer will not or cannot answer questions about your return or taxes in general, dump them. It's that simple.

2. Rapport-If your tax preparer treats you like you're a piece of gum stuck under a shoe, or worse, find someone else.

3. Experience-If you know more than your tax preparer does, either prepare them yourself or rid yourself of this one.

4. Honesty-If your preparer proposes making up income (Schedule C) or omitting income, leave immediately and find a legitimate preparer.

The don'ts:

1. Don't sign a blank return-Whatever is inserted later, whether right or wrong, you're responsible for it.

2. Don't give all your information to the preparer, such as all 3 to 4 copies of your W-2. (They only need one unless you are mailing your return in) and your only copy of your 1099s and 1098s. Allow them to enter the information into the computer, then get it back for your records.

3. Don't allow the preparer to make a copy of your driver's license or social security cards.

4. Don't leave the preparer's office without a copy of your tax return.

The do's:

1. Look over the printed copy of your return or review the preparer's entries while being input into the computer to avoid potential mistakes. Ask questions if the entries make no sense or don't jive with your figures.

2. If mailing your return, mail it yourself. Do not delegate this task to the preparer.

3. Ask why previous years returns are being amended if your tax preparer asks you to bring in old returns to have them "looked over". And don't be satisfied with just "your preparer did the taxes wrong". Ask specifically what was done wrong. It might be cheaper, even free for the old preparer to fix the problem.


Check out the following resources for tax help:

1. The IRS website, www.irs.gov

2.
The book, Everyday Tax Tips Part I, by Cora Parks

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