As Tax season 2016 quickly approaches we know how cumbersome it can be when selecting the right tax professional to complete your returns. Most tax return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent service to their clients. However, unfortunately dishonest and corrupt tax return preparers who file false income tax returns still do exist.
Below are 10 tips you should keep in mind when selecting a tax professional:
- Select an ethical preparer. You should be able to entrust some of your most vital personal data with the person preparing your tax return, including income, investments and Social Security numbers.
- Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than the others. Taxpayers need to ensure that any refund due is sent to them or deposited into their bank account, and NOT into a preparer’s account.
- Be sure to use a preparer with a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). Paid tax return preparers must have a current PTIN to prepare a tax return. It is also a good idea to ask the preparer if they belong to a professional organization and attend continuing education classes.
- Research the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. For the status of an enrolled agent’s license, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment (enrolled agents are licensed by the IRS and are specifically trained in federal tax planning, preparation and representation). For certified public accountants, verify with the state board of accountancy; and for attorneys, check with the state bar association.
- Ask for e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file the returns electronically.
- Provide tax records. A good preparer will ask to see records and receipts. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file a return using the latest pay stub instead of the Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
- Make sure the preparer is available after the filing due date. This may be helpful if questions come up about the tax return. Taxpayers can designate their paid tax return preparer or another third party to speak to the IRS concerning the preparation of their return, payment/refund issues and mathematical errors.
- Review the tax return and ask questions before signing. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their return, regardless of whether someone else prepared it. Make sure it’s accurate before signing it.
- Never sign a blank tax return. If a taxpayer signs a blank return the preparer could then put anything they want on the return — even their own bank account number for the tax refund.
- Preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give the taxpayer a copy of their return; never leave without one.
Most tax return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent service to their clients. However, dishonest and unscrupulous tax return preparers who file false income tax returns still do exist. Always check any return for errors to avoid potential financial and legal problems.
Contact us here at Bookkeeping Concepts at 770-935-8200 for any of your business tax needs.