9 Easy Ways to Hire a Tax Preparer

Tax season is here. Some people procrastinate and wait until the last minute to file their taxes which makes it difficult when trying to find a reputable tax preparer. It can take time to find a good tax preparer but if you wait until the last minute you have limited options and may be charged a higher fee. The average cost ranges from $150 to $300 but can range as high as 1,500.

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Some tax preparers charge by the hour, charge a flat fee for each form used, charge a fee based on the previous year’s fee plus additional charges for any changes, charge based on the complexity of the client’s situation, charge a flat fee for each data entry item and some charge based on a percentage of your refund. Here are 9 steps to hire a tax preparer:

Expertise

When hiring a company verify who will prepare your taxes – an entry level, junior or senior employee. Ask about their experience and the type of clients they have serviced. If a less seasoned employee is preparing your taxes request that a senior employee review your returns before filing to ensure no deductions were missed and no errors are found. Not everyone is knowledgeable in every area and not everyone will admit that they lack that knowledge because they want to get your business.

Claims

Avoid hiring tax preparers who guarantee a refund or a specific amount, this information cannot be determined until your taxes are prepared. These types of individuals or companies conduct unethical or illegal practices to get large refunds, may charge additional fees and put taxpayers at risk for an audit.

Disclosure of Fees

Ask for disclosure of all fees that can be charged. Inquire about payment methods and installment plans.

Registration

Verify the tax preparer is registered in their state and possesses a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Tax preparers can have different credentials. You have the option of using a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Enrolled Agent (EA) or Tax Attorney.

Known Companies

Companies can be used such as H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt to prepare taxes. However, these companies may not have tax preparers who specialize in certain areas. These types of companies are best for taxpayers who have common tax deductions, homeowners and those who do not own a business.

Customer Service

Verify their level of customer service by looking up the individual or company on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website or with your state directory for licensed tax preparers.

File Electronically

Ask if the tax preparer offers electronic filing which spends up processing time and the time to receive a refund.

Obtain Contact Information

Ensure you have the tax preparer’s contact information including first and last name, work and cell phone number and email address if you have questions during or after the tax preparation process.

Guarantee

The tax preparer should guarantee the accuracy of your tax returns and offer to amend your tax return at no cost if an error is made or be willing to represent you during an audit.



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