A tax return preparer is responsible for the overall accuracy of your return. Most tax return preparers are honest, professional, and provide good services to their clients. However, it is important for you to be aware that dishonest and unethical tax return preparers who file false income tax returns are out there. Filing your taxes can be a big task, so it's important to make sure you are getting back the correct amount for your tax return. Here are some tips from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on how to choose the right tax return preparer for you.
What to look for:
- In case the IRS has questions regarding how your return was prepared, choose a tax return preparer who is easy to contact and is within close proximity of where you live.
- Look for recommendations. Ask your family, friends, co-workers, or your employer for help when selecting a tax return preparer.
- Make sure you use a tax preparer with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare all or part of a tax return.
- Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS. Other tax return preparers who participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program have limited practice rights to represent taxpayers for audits of returns they prepared and signed.
What to avoid:
- Avoid tax return preparers who claim they can obtain larger funds than others.
- Never sign a blank tax form.
- Avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of your refund into their financial accounts.
- Do not use a preparer that does not enter their PTIN on the tax return, doesn’t sign the tax return, and is unable to provide you a copy of the return.
- If you have doubts whether the individual or firm will be around for a while, do not use them in case you have questions about your return after it has been filed.
Keep in mind that even though your tax preparer is always required to sign the return, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the report. You should always double check your return to look for any errors in order to avoid potential financial and legal problems. If you have been impacted by improper tax return practices, make a complaint about your tax return preparer on the IRS website.