Money Guide Choosing a Tax Preparer Great Ideas Collection
If you elect to have your tax returns prepared by someone else, keep in mind tht in most states, there is no licensing or other qualification required to be a "tax preparer." Here are some pointers that may help you:
  • You should consider that person's level of qualifications and experience. Your cousin's second uncle may offer an attractive price, but how skilled are they at preparing returns like yours?.
  • Look for related qualifications. Generally, your safest bet is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), who should be abreast of the latest changes in tax laws. Note that many CPAs now use software packages themselves to expedite their work and to aid in record keeping.
  • Understand who will actually do the work. If you go to a firm that hires seasonal workers and puts them through a crash course in tax preparation, you should not expect a very high level of expertise in obscure areas of the tax code..
  • Whenever you hire a preparer, be sure you understand what guarantees, if any, that person (or the firm for which he or she works) extends to you, and then get the guaranty in writing. For example, if a mistake on their part winds up causing you penalties, interest for underpayment of taxes, or missed deductions, will they compensate you (including lost or incurred interest)?

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Topic contents Mark Kolakowski and CliqueFriends, LLC, 2004
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