- Check the Preparer’s Qualifications: Find a tax return preparer with the qualifications that you prefer. Ask to see if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources and holds them accountable to a code of ethics. Your preparer should have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) that is used when signing your return.
- Check the Preparer’s History: Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Also check with the State Board of Accountancy to verify the status of their license and any disciplinary actions against them.
- Ask about Service Fees: Avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition.
- Ask to E-file: Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file electronically. The IRS has safely processed billions of e-filed tax returns.
- Make Sure the Preparer is Available: Make sure that you are able to stay in contact with the preparer after the return has been filed, even after the due date in April, in case any questions arise regarding your tax return. Taxpayers can also benefit from year-round tax advice if the preparer is available after the filing deadline.
- Provide Records and Receipts: Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you questions about them to help them determine information for your tax return. This will help them to figure your total income, tax deductions, credits, and other items. Do not use a preparer who will electronic file your return using your last pay stub instead of your W-2.
- Never Sign a Blank Return: Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank tax form.
- Review before Signing: Before signing your return, make sure to review it and ask any questions that you may have. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the accuracy and understand everything before you sign. Be sure to review your bank account and routing number for your bank so the refund goes directly to you.
- Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN: All paid tax preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. Although the preparer signs your return, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of it. Your preparer must also provide you with a copy of your return.