5 Takeaways That I Learned About Returns

Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer

Taxpayers who want help with their tax return preparation should be careful in choosing a tax preparer. Even if a return was prepared by a professional, taxpayers have to take note that they are still legally responsible for anything they file with the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax evasion is a felony, punishable by fines of $250,000 max and imprisonment of 5 years max. If you’re in doubt about hiring a certain preparer, first do your homework. If someone promises you bigger refunds than other preparers, look elsewhere.

Below are tips that can help you find the right tax preparer:
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1. Look into their background.
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Approach the Better Business Bureau to learn about the the preparer’s background. In particular, pay attention to any disciplinary actions and check the status of their license.

2. Ask regarding service fees.

Steer clear of preparers who will charge you based on a percentage of your refund. As well, make sure any refund due is forwarded to your bank account, not theirs.

3. Opt for e-filing.

Ensure that your preparer can e-file your return. With more than ten clients, a paid preparer should file the returns electronically, except when the client chooses to file a paper return.

4. Give your records and receipts.

Reputable preparers will always ask to take a look at your receipts and records. They will inquire about your total income and your qualifications for deductions, credits and the others. Avoid a preparer who is agreeable to e-filing your return with your most recent pay stub before your Form W-2 arrives. This is in violation of IRS rules.

5. You should never sign a blank return.

Stay away from a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank tax form.

6. Check the whole return before signing it.

Make sure everything in the return is well-understood and you are confident that it is accurate.

7. Have the preparer sign and indicate his PTIN.

A tax preparer should sign the return and add their PTIN as required by law. The preparer should also supply you with a copy of the return.

8. Report unscrupulous tax preparers to the IRS.

If your preparer changed or filed your return without your approval, file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

Keep these tips in mind before selecting someone who will prepare your tax return. Again, when the IRS spots a fraudulent return, you, the taxpayer — not the return preparer — will pay the additional taxes and interest, and possibly penalties.