If you are going to pay someone to do your tax return, be sure to choose your tax preparer wisely. Remember, you are legally responsible for what is on your tax returns even if they are prepared by someone else. So, it is important to find a qualified tax professional.
If you are looking for a local tax professional, some locations to find quality, qualified tax preparers are among the members of the Indiana CPA Society or the Indiana Society of Enrolled Agents.
Tips on Finding Tax Preparers
A reputable preparer will ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify and remind clients that they need to keep careful and complete records in order to substantiate information contained on their tax return. They do this with their client’s best interest in mind and are trying to help their client avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes.
Here are some things to look for when choosing a preparer:
- Find a preparer who will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed and responds to their clients in a reasonable amount of time.
- Find out what the preparer’s service fees are before the return is prepared.
- Use a tax professional who provides you a copy of your return to keep for your records.
- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers without first reviewing your returns.
- Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.
- Before signing your return, review it and ask questions.
- Ask others that you know who have used that preparer and if they were satisfied with the services they received.
- Ask any preparer you are considering for references.
- Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association for attorneys.
- Check to see if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
- Check to see if the preparer has a proper Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has been required to file federal tax returns since 2011.
- Check to see if the IRS has not obtained a permanent injunction prohibiting the preparer from preparing federal tax returns.
- Always question entries on your return that you don’t understand. Never sign a blank return.
- Insist that the preparer sign the return and provide appropriate preparer information on the return.
And don’t forget before you sign your tax return or authorize it to be filed electronically, review the return and ask questions!