Tax preparer fraud might not be so prevalent if the tax preparer and not the person whose taxes are being done where held responsible. It does not matter if you are unaware of any fraudulent wrong doing YOU will be the one who pays any penalties if there are any additional taxes that may be due, so it is wise to take the time to find a reliable and honest tax preparer.
What should you look for when conducting your search? Check the person’s qualifications. Is the person in any professional organizations that provide them with continued education, and helps them stay abreast of all the new tax laws and changes? Do they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) with the IRS? Along with this, check their business history. You can contact the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any claims filed against them or if any disciplinary actions and states changes on their license have occurred.
Find out what they charge and what they are charging for. If possible find a preparer that has a standard flat fee for different types of tax preparation. When quoted a fee make sure that includes the cost of filing both State and Federal returns. Make sure they don’t charge you based on the amount of your return, and that there are not going to be any surprise charges when your taxes are finished. If the person is not willing to give you a definitive answer about the cost then you more than likely need to continue searching for a preparer. Make sure that the preparer is available to you even after the taxes have been filed, in case there are any questions that come up.
A reputable preparer will ask to see your records including a copy of the previous year’s tax return and any relevant receipts. They will ask you a lot of questions to be able to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses, deductions and any other items.
Review the prepared tax return before signing it, do not sign a blank tax form; remember you are the person that is held responsible for your taxes. Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Make sure the return makes sense to you and that you are comfortable with its accuracy. Make sure that the tax preparer’s PTIN has been included on the return.
Even with the growing tax fraud there are many reputable tax preparers, it will just take a little research to find the right one, but the time spent looking is worth having an accurate return.