No one likes filing their own taxes, it takes time, organization, and a great amount of knowledge to file them correctly. For this reason many people to choose to hire a CPA or a tax preparer to help them get the biggest refund possible on their filed taxes. The following tips will help you find a qualified professional to prepare your taxes for you.
How to Begin:
Anyone who has a Preparer Tax Identification Number or rather a PTIN, can prepare a tax return for a client. However, there are over 700,000 people who have obtained their PTIN through the IRS so finding the right professional for you can be difficult.
- Ask Your Friends and Family: You ask the people you trust most for advice in all aspects of your life and finding a trusted professional to do your taxes should be no different. If your friends or family have a tax preparer of CPA that they love, by all means use them.
- Make inquiries: Don’t hesitate to personally call a CPA or tax preparer and ask them questions. Make sure and get a good understanding of their specialties and qualifications. There is a big difference between filing taxes for a salaried employee with a single W-2 versus someone who owns a business. Be sure that whoever you hire is equipped to handle your taxes.
- Look Them Up: Before you hire anyone, make sure and look up their qualifications. You can verify their credentials on the IRS website or by checking the American Institute of CPAs website where they can authenticate your professional’s license.
Ask the Tough Questions:
Whoever you hire to prepare your taxes will essentially be your employee for a temporary time. Anyone who is in the business of hiring a new employee will undoubtedly ask them questions to see if they are qualified for the task. Benjamin T Koeller CPA, PLLC has prepared 23 questions that you can ask your potential new employee. The following are a few questions that can be found on his website:
- “How much professional education do you get annually?”- The tax code as well as the interpretation of the tax code change every year, so it is important to make sure that your tax preparer is up to date on their proficiency.
- “Who will I be interacting with?”- It is common within tax firms for professionals to collaborate on a single return, make sure you know who you will be dealing with directly.
- “What’s your policy on returning phone calls?”- You want to be confident in how quickly they will respond to any questions or concerns you may have regarding your taxes.
- “Why should I use you?” – If they don’t seem genuinely interested in your success, find someone who is.
What to Avoid
While there are number of things to look for in a CPA or tax preparer, there are also a few things that should be avoided.
- Contingent Fees- It is important for you to avoid any tax preparer who charges a contingent fee. This is a percentage of money based off of your tax return. As this is essentially an unknown number, it is far better for you to come to an agreed amount of money before they begin working on your taxes.
- Procrastination- Don’t wait too long to begin searching for a certified tax preparer. You don’t want to procrastinate and lose out on the more qualified professionals because they are too booked with other clients.
- Disorganization- The more organized you are with your paperwork throughout the year, the easier it will be on everyone when it comes time to file your taxes.
- Ignorance- While it’s true that a tax preparer must sign for the work they did, it is essentially your responsibility for how accurate your return is. Be sure and go over your tax preparer’s work before you sign and file your return.
Filing your taxes each year doesn’t need to be something that you dread. Find a professional that you trust to do your taxes and continue using them annually.