The tax season is upon us and it is important for taxpayers to choose their tax return preparer carefully. While most tax return preparers provide honest and quality service, some may cause harm through fraud, identity theft, and other scams. It is crucial for taxpayers to understand who they are choosing and what important questions to ask before hiring a tax professional.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds taxpayers that they are ultimately responsible for all the information on their tax return, regardless of who prepares it. To help choose a tax professional, the IRS offers information on tax return preparer credentials and qualifications on its website.
When selecting a tax return preparer, taxpayers should be cautious of red flags such as preparers who do not sign tax returns, or who base their fees on a percentage of the refund. Taxpayers should also be wary of preparers who offer larger refunds than competitors or who deposit refunds into their own financial accounts.
To ensure a positive and smooth tax filing experience, taxpayers can follow these tips:
- Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
- Check the Better Business Bureau and relevant professional organizations for the preparer’s history and disciplinary actions.
- Ask about service fees and ensure they are transparent.
- Make sure the preparer offers IRS e-file.
- Provide records and receipts and make sure the preparer asks to see them.
- Understand the preparer’s credentials and qualifications.
- Never sign a blank or incomplete tax return.
- Review the tax return before signing it and make sure the routing and bank account information is accurate.
By following these tips, taxpayers can make a well-informed decision when choosing a tax professional and avoid falling victim to fraud or other scams.