This is because it’s ultimately you who is responsible for all the information on your income tax return. It’s important for you to remember that this is true no matter who prepares the return.
Here are some tips to remember when selecting a preparer:
Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. You can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps you find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.
Check the Preparer’s History. You can ask the local Better Business Bureau about the preparer. You should check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. There are some additional organizations with information about specific types of preparers:
•Enrolled Agents: Go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov.
•Certified Public Accountants: Check with the State Board of Accountancy.
•Attorneys: Check with the State Bar Association.
Ask about Service Fees. You should avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition.
Make Sure the Preparer is Available. You may want to contact your preparer after this year’s April 15 due date. You should avoid “fly-by-night” preparers.
Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.
Never Sign a Blank Return. You should not use a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank tax form.
Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, you should review it. You should ask questions if something is not clear. You should feel comfortable with the accuracy of your return before you sign it. Once you sign the return, you are accepting responsibility for the information on it.
Review details about any refund. You should make sure that your refund goes directly to you – not to the preparer’s bank account. You should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return.
Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.