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Do you plan on hiring a professional to tackle your taxes this year? Whether for your business or for yourself, you’ll want to choose wisely, according to Better Business Bureau®.
“Choosing a tax preparer with a proven track record is important because you are ultimately liable for all information provided on the form,” said Shelley Polansky, vice president/communications for BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming.
For that reason, both BBB and the Internal Revenue Service advise checking out a potential tax preparer with BBB before handing over your financials. In fact, go one step further and check the status of their licenses: state board of accountancy for CPAs, state bar association for attorneys; and IRS Office of Enrollment for enrolled agents.
In addition, all tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. “If the tax professional does not have one, or asks you to sign a blank form, continue looking for one you can trust,” Polansky said. In addition, ask if the preparer belongs to a professional organization and regularly attends continuing education classes.
BBB also advises:
Ask how the preparer determines his/her fee. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or who say they can get you a larger refund than others. Ensure that any refund is sent to you or deposited directly into your bank account, not the preparer’s.
Ask to e-file your return. Any paid tax professional who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file returns electronically, according to the IRS, which has safely processed more than 1.2 billion e-filed tax returns.
Ask if your preparer is available year-round. If questions about your return arise after April 15, will the tax preparer be available to answer questions or assist in the event of an IRS audit? You want to be sure he/she is.
Polansky also said taxpayers need to review tax returns carefully before signing to ensure all information provided is accurate. “Be sure to ask questions if something is not clear,” she said. “When it comes to taxes, there is no silly question.”
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