Before you decide to give a tax return preparer your information, do your homework.
Check the preparer’s qualifications
- Make sure the preparer has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A PTIN is required for anyone who is paid for preparing or helping to prepare all or substantially all of a federal tax return, claim for refund, or certain other IRS tax forms. Find out if the preparer is affiliated with any professional associations.
- Ask the preparer about his or her education and training; specifically about their background that qualifies them to prepare your return.
Check the preparer’s history
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has had complaints filed against them.
- Check with professional associations to see if the preparer has had any disciplinary actions, and for the status of the preparer’s license:
Ask about charges and fees
- Avoid tax return preparers who charge you based on the amount of your refund
- Obtain a clear estimate, preferably in writing, for the preparation and filing services
Find out what services the preparer offers
- Does the preparer offer electronic filing?
- Is the preparer available after April 15 to answer questions about your return months or years after it is filed?
- Do you know anyone who has used this preparer? Were they satisfied with the service? If not, why?
Note: Be careful when a preparer says they can get you a larger refund than other preparers. Remember, even if your preparer handles everything involved in completing your tax return, you are still responsible for its accuracy.
Always get a complete copy of your tax return and keep it for your records. Verify the preparer signed it and included a PTIN. In addition, avoid any preparer who asks you to sign a blank tax return or requires the refund to be direct-deposited to a bank account under the preparer’s control.