When you select a tax expert, do you know what to look for to protect you?
It’s tax time again, and you have to select a tax expert. As a taxpayer, you need to choose the right tax preparer to help file your IRS and state return. Protect yourself, protect your business and choose wisely! The taxpayer is responsible for every piece of information on the income tax return, regardless who prepares the return. Here are 11 tips on how to protect yourself from dishonest tax preparers.
Validate the Preparer’s Qualifications
People can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.
Verify the Preparer’s History.
Reach out to the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. The BBB will inform you of disciplinary actions and the license status for preparers who hold credentials. Are you looking for a CPA? You can check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, they can check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, verify the enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory.
What will is cost to prepare my returns?
Avoid a preparer whose fees depend on a percentage of the refund. Another warning sign when you select a tax expert who claims they get bigger refunds than their competition. Never give personal documents, Social Security numbers or other information, when interviewing a preparer.
Does the Tax Office Offer E-file.
A safe indicator when hiring a tax professional is to make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file from their computer, not yours. First, this is the fastest way for taxpayers to get their refund and request direct deposit. Check the routing number and the account number before a tax preparer submits your state or IRS return.
Is the Tax Preparer Year-Round?
What if you want to contact the preparer after April 15th/April 17th due date. Never select a tax preparer who is not around all year. You want to be able to find your tax preparer in the case of an audit.
Save and Provide Tax Records and Receipts.
Professional tax preparers will request to see a taxpayer’s receipts and records. This is a good experience indicator when you choose a tax preparer. They’ll ask questions to sorth things out like the total income, tax deductions and credits. We also recommend that you download bank account and credit card year-end statements to help with accuracy of your deductions.
Review Your Tax Return Before Signing It.
Before signing a tax return, the taxpayer should review it. They should ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. The taxpayer should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the return.
Never Sign a Blank Return.
A tax preparer should never ask you to sign a blank form. And, never sign a blank check. This is your reputation, and the last think you or your business needs is to be brought up on tax fraud.
Check the Preparer Signature and PTIN.
Here is another red flag when you select a tax expert. It is the law that all paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Also the law requires that all paid preparers must include the PTIN and sign the return.
Report Dishonest Tax Preparers to the IRS.
Not every tax preparer is a fraud. In fact, most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, report any suspicion you have regarding identity thieves. Protect yourself from identity thieves who want nothing more than steal your tax return refund. Report dishonest tax preparers to the IRS by using Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. Any taxpayer who suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. It is your responsibility to inform the IRS of any mistakes or tax fraud.
The IRS Will Never Call or Email You
Did you get a call from the IRS? Did you get an email from the IRS? Beware, it is identity theives at work during tax season. The IRS will never call you and the IRS will never email you. They will always send you a letter. When you receive a letter from the IRS take it to your tax professional. They should help you with any questions the IRS has.
Do you still need help to select a tax preparer?
A good tax preparer will be there for you all year, not just during tax season. Joseph Cahill and Associates / Worthtax has been around for over 30 years. We have tax professionals who work with us full time. Worthtax implements a triple-check accuracy system to make sure your tax returns are accurate. That means three different qualified tax professionals review your tax return. Call me, Alex Franch, BS EA at 781.849.7200 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you are a new business or an entreprenuer contemplating starting a business, make an appointment to develop a business strategy. Are you business who didn’t file your business tax return? No worries, we will help you sort through all the detail to file an accurate return. We specialize in corporate, S-corp, LLCs and Partnerships.
Meet Alex Franch, BS EA
Alex is a Tax Specialist and Partner at Joseph Cahill & Associates / WorthTax. He has a diverse background including a Bachelor of Science from Boston College in Mathematics and extensive military service. Alex is an Enrolled Agent and has a decade of tax preparation experience. He is passionate about serving businesses with tax and financial planning.
Sources and Resources
- Landlords Are You Collecting-w-9s?
- 7 Ways Small Business Owners Save Money on Taxes Legally
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- Form 1099 Miscellaneous Filing Deadline
- IRS Tax Guidance: S Corporation Stockholder, Reasonable Compensation
- 12 Common Tax Problems to Avoid
- Tax Reform is Confusing Part 2
- Tax Reform is Confusing! Here is a Side by Side Comparison Part 1
- Learn About This Year-End Tax Strategy
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