As taxpayers gear up for the approaching tax filing season, it’s crucial to choose tax return preparers with the right skills, education, and expertise to ensure accurate preparation of tax forms. Regardless of who prepares the return, taxpayers bear ultimate responsibility for all the information included.
Various types of tax preparers, such as certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, attorneys, and others, are available. To make the best selection for their needs, taxpayers should consider the following tips:
- Check the IRS Directory of Preparers: Explore the IRS Directory of Preparers to find enrolled agents, CPAs, attorneys, or participants in the Annual Filing Season Program.
- Checklist for choosing a tax pro: Before hiring a tax preparer, consider the following:
- Check the preparer’s Better Business Bureau history and verify an enrolled agent’s status on IRS.gov.
- Inquire about fees, avoiding those based on a percentage of the refund or offering to deposit refunds into their own accounts.
- Confirm if the preparer plans to use e-file for a faster refund through direct deposit.
- Choose a firm or individual with a proven track record to address future questions about the tax return.
- Ensure the preparer signs the tax return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
- Consider Credentials: Only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS. Tax return preparers participating in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program have limited practice rights during audits.
- Beware of Tax Preparer Scams: Protect against tax preparer fraud with these tips:
- Be cautious of preparers claiming unusually large refunds.
- Watch out for scams involving depositing refunds into preparers’ accounts.
- Report any misconduct or improper tax preparation practices to the IRS.
The IRS is committed to investigating improper conduct by paid tax return preparers. Taxpayers impacted by misconduct can file complaints, ensuring a safer tax preparation experience for all.