Tax season is here. Who are you going to call?
By signing your 1040 form, you agree to abide by the tax law that holds you responsible for paying your taxes, regardless of who prepares your return. When it comes to collecting on mistakes, innocent or otherwise, the Internal Revenue Service looks for the taxpayer, not the person who filled out the forms.
So before you turn your tax life over to someone else, make sure that the preparer is right for you and will do the right thing when it comes to filing your taxes.
The easiest way to ensure you have a reputable preparer is to get one who is accredited, says Kerry Freeman, an Enrolled Agent (EA)vand spokesman for the Central Arizona Chapter of Enrolled Agent(CACEA).
Look for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), an Enrolled Agent (EA) or a Tax Attorney.
"Typically, these preparers are required to maintain continuing education credits to maintain their designation," says Freeman. "This is a real plus for the taxpayers because they will have some additional security knowing the preparer they chose is up to date on the latest tax law changes."
Dig a little deeper
Once, you locate a preparer with good credentials, dig a little deeper into his or her background. Find out how long he or she has been in the tax preparation business, Freeman says, and what services are provided.
In addition, find out if the preparer belongs to any professional organizations. "This indicates a dedication to their chosen profession," says Freeman.
Rely on references
References are easiest to check when you use a preparer recommended by family and friends. If you select someone totally new to you, don't be afraid to ask for references and follow up with them to see if they are satisfied with the service.
Freeman also recommends checking the preparer's fee before any work is done. "This will eliminate any surprises when you go to pick up your return," he says. Fee’s very widely across the area and by who prepares the return. Freeman also reminds you that the fee your friend or neighbor pays might not be the same fee to you.
Since tax issues can pop up anytime, find a preparer who will be around, with regular office hours, after April 15. "There is nothing more frustrating for a taxpayer than when he or she cannot reach the preparer during the year," says Freeman.
Kerry Freeman Is your Anthem Enrolled Agent. Enrolled Agents are licensed by the U.S. Treasury to represent taxpayer before the IRS. Mr. Freeman Is a Member in good standing with the NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents) and the CACEA (Central Arizona Chapter of Enrolled Agents). Mr. Freeman will gladly answer any question by calling 623-518-2157.