How To Select A Tax Preparer

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Tax preparers are not created equal. Most industries have regulations and statutes to ensure consumer protections exist when it comes to financial matters. Getting your taxes filed every year is just another part of adulting. Knowing if you’re getting the best type of service for your finances can be challenge when it comes time to file your taxes each year.

It’s hard to tell what you’re really paying for. Having information to compare services before you file and pay taxes is of upmost importance for your financial well-being. Only a few states regulate their tax preparers. These states are California, Illinois, Nevada, Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Oregon. 

Non-credentialed tax preparers are people who prepare tax returns but are not Certified Public Accountants or Enrolled Agents.

There are about half a million people who work as non-credentialed tax preparers. All paid preparers and some volunteers are required to sign tax returns using a PTIN.  Most of them work with national tax preparation services like H & R Block, Liberty Tax Service, or Jackson Hewitt Tax Services.

Non-Credentialed tax preparers typically handle individual tax returns, which are less complicated than those for businesses. They generally get paid less than Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents.

The IRS and the practitioner community are working hard to require minimum standards to become a paid tax return preparer. The IRS can only do so much to protect taxpayers from financial harm by unethical return preparers.  Taxpayers like you have a role to play in protecting your financial information.

Because most paid preparers do not have professional designations and may be unregulated, be sure to choose a tax preparer wisely. You are responsible for all of the information on your income tax returns.

Did you pay someone to do your taxes?

Does the signature box look like this photo?

Paid Preparer signature box signed Self-Prepared Paid Preparer signature box signed Self-Prepared

You may have given your financial information to an unregulated tax preparer. Most importantly, make sure your tax professional signs your return with their informations and their PTIN.  Ascension Financial Services signs every tax return that goes out of our offices.  We are ethical.

Where to Find a Tax Preparer

  1. Use the Internal Revenue Service Directory
  2. Start with your local state tax agency or State Board of Accountancy’s CPA search
  3. Use the Find a Tax Expert feature on the National Association of Enrolled Agents website
  4.  Use the Find a preparer tool on the National Association of Tax Professionals website

Here are some tips you should remember when selecting a tax preparer:

  1. Check the preparer’s qualifications
  2. Ask them what they do in case of an audit or IRS Notice
  3. Ask about fees
  4. Ask to E-file
  5. Ask about year-round services
  6. Provide records and receipts
  7. Never sign a blank return
  8. Review before signing
  9. Ensure the preparer signs and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number
  10. Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS or let us know

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