looking for a tax preparer

09 Feb

7 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Tax Preparer

If you’ve decided to hire a professional to file your taxes this year, your next step is to search for, approve and hire a CPA. Since your tax preparer will be handling your most sensitive financial and personal information, it’s important to find a trusted and experienced professional you can rely on. Here are 7 questions to ask when looking for a tax preparer.

What is your PTIN?

As required by the IRS, any tax preparer who files tax returns for compensation must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. If your potential accountant does not have a PTIN, they do not have the proper credentials to file your returns.

Will you be signing my returns?

All paid taxes preparers must sign the returns they prepare as well as include their PTIN on the return, as required by the IRS. By signing the returns they prepare, they’re agreeing to be accountable to the work they did.

What will happen if I’m audited?

If the IRS chooses to audit your return, will the tax preparer stand by the return they prepared for you? If not, that may be a red flag.

How do you determine your fees? May I have an estimated cost?

Your tax preparer may most likely charge by the hour, but they’ll be able to give you an estimate of how long similar projects usually take. Be sure to get a rough estimated cost before officially hiring them.

What are your credentials, and how many years of tax preparation experience do you have?

You’ll want to make sure your tax preparer has a Certified Public Accountant license. It isn’t required for CPA’s to have extensive or advanced tax specialty training, however, so be sure to ask them to detail the years of tax preparation experience they do have.

What kind of clients do you typically work with?

This is a great question to get an overview of the variety of clients your tax preparer has experience in serving.

What documents will you need from me?

Get an overview up front of all the essential documentation you’ll need to submit to your tax preparer. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared and not scrambling through old files last minute.

At the end of the day, be selective when choosing your tax preparer. Make sure to bring a list of questions you want answered when meeting them for the first time, shop around, and do the research that helps you make the decision with ease.