Choose Your Tax Preparer Wisely

cautionsignTax season is officially here and many people do not realize they are responsible for the information on their tax return – regardless of who prepares it. Be wary of who you choose to prepare your taxes.

• Make sure your preparer is truly qualified (e.g., CPA, Enrolled Agent, etc.). The IRS (IRS.gov) has a searchable database of registered, qualified preparers.
• Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of your refund or who say they can get you a bigger refund than anyone else.
• Make sure your refund goes directly to you; not your preparer’s bank account.
• Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Legitimate paid preparers generally must file electronic.
• Check the preparer’s history: for CPAs, check the State Board of Accountancy; for attorneys, check with the State Bar Association; for Enrolled Agents, go to IRS.gov to verify enrolled agent status.
• Do not use a preparer who will e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your W-2. Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts and will also help figure applicable deductions, credits, etc.
• Never sign a blank tax return.
• All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Ensure your preparer signs and includes their PTIN on your return.
• Always review your return and ask questions if you have them.
• Make sure your preparer is available after the tax deadline in the case you need them. Avoid fly-by-night preparers.