When searching for tax preparation services, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Given that one-third of the population utilizes tax experts when filing returns, it's no surprise that the market is flooded with options. However, a little research can lead you to the right match for your particular needs. Just what qualities should you investigate when looking for your new preparer? We've created a quick reference guide for your convenience.
What Credentials are Important?
When you employ a new tax preparer, you should do a little research into their background. Any professional in tax preparation services will have a "Preparer Tax Identification Number", while a volunteer preparer will not. Additionally, it's a good idea to find a preparer with extensive experience in finance. Professionals like Certified Public Accountants, licensed attorneys, and others have the expert knowledge to tackle your returns. Feel free to search through the IRS directory by location to browse through qualified experts in your zip code. This is a quick and easy way to find professionals that are not only certified, but convenient to access as well.
How Should I Compare Prices?
Different tax preparation services may charge wildly different fees, so it's worth your time to shop around. Be skeptical of preparers who charge based on refund amounts. This is an unconventional practice that may be cause for concern. It is standard in the industry to charge by the hour, as more complex taxes may require more extensive paperwork. Also, look for preparers who offer e-filing services. This is a requirement for professionals who file more than 10 returns in a year, and it is a major time-saver as well.
What Happens After I File?
After both you and you tax preparer sign the completed returns, it's time to file. However, inquire whether or not your tax preparer offers services that continue after the filing is over. Some tax preparers have the expertise to represent you in case of an audit, appeals, and other common issues. Other qualified tax preparers do not have this training, so it's worth communicating beforehand to find out what tax preparation services your preparer can offer.
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