It’s important to choose the right one because even though you are seeking assistance from someone else, you’re still responsible for everything on the return. Here are a few pieces of advice to help you with your tax advisor search.
Certified public accountants vs. enrolled agents
There's a lot of options out there when it comes to choosing someone to prepare your taxes. While you may be more apt to find the cheapest option, that can sometimes mean sacrificing experience and expertise. You need to ensure that your choice is licensed, and two of the best options are certified public accountants (CPA) and enrolled agents (EA).
EAs are authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS. They also advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, corporations, estates, trusts and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. A CPA's expertise is performing tax, accounting and financial services to businesses .
Both CPAs and EAs have spent numerous hours getting an education and licensing, so you can expect them to assist you with the tax process reliably.
Referrals from friends
When you're shopping around for a big purchase, you usually ask for opinions from your friends. It can be helpful to do the same thing when looking for a tax advisor. Chances are, your friends have had good and bad tax experiences, so they won't have a problem giving you their opinion. This is one of the best ways to get an opinion you can trust.
The Better Business Bureau
Once you've narrowed down the list of possible candidates, it's a good idea to do a background check on your choices at the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This will provide you with general information about the company, reviews and complaints, quotes, and the year the business was accredited.
Compatibility and verification
If you've picked one or two of your top choices, now is the time to make sure they're a perfect fit for you. Conduct an “interview,” if you will. This will help you make your final decision and verify that your choice is the most compatible with you and your tax preparation. Here are a few important questions you can ask them:
- What is your tax background?
- Do you know the requirements of the states and localities where I am required to file?
- What records and other documentation will you need from me?
- How do I find you if I have a question or a problem after tax season is over?
- What happens if I get audited?
Preparing your tax return should not be taken lightly, so it's important that you find a tax advisor that fits your needs and gives you confidence. For other tax tips and information, check out Central Bank's Learning Center.
 EA vs CPA: Which is Right for You, Fox Business