Over 100 billion individuals and businesses out there avoid doing their tax related filings on their own, either due to time constraint, accuracy, or workload. It’s extremely important to be vigilant when you are looking for an accountant that suits your need because you will be sharing all your personal information and financial data with them. Finance and accounting scams are on the rise and many tax preparers or accountants promise unusually high refunds or tax avoidance deals. That’s definitely a red flag. Here are a few tips on finding the right CPA/ Accountant / Tax preparer for you:
Request for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
This is a first step in identifying a good tax consultant, a majority of them do not have that. It will be okay to trust someone with a preparer tax identification number compared to just anyone out there. A PTIN is a prerequisite for every individual or firm who helps others prepare for their federal tax return especially when doing it for a reward from the client. However, anyone can request a PTIN online. But having a PTIN, isa step closer to hiring one.
Request for a CPA, Law License or Enrolled Agent Designation
Since it is easy to get a PTIN, you can hire someone that has gone the extra miles to be a certified public accountant or a licensed attorney to handle your tax preparation services. These individuals go through vigorous training programs to be licensed. So that makes them more reliable compared to someone with no additional qualification. It is easy to verify their information through online research and state enlisted societies. Most states and IRS will have information for such personals in online directories.
Check Federal and State Eligibility
Some states require you to file state taxes as well, it’s important to have someone who is eligible in your state and understands the state specific guidelines. Example: State of WA does not require State income tax filing however, State of CA has California state income taxes. Similarly, for corporates the payroll taxes will differ based on where you hire or where you are headquartered and many more federal plus state requirements. So, it’s important to have all the requirements in mind when you are looking to hire someone.
Reconsider tax preparation services who don’t E-file.
It is believed that E-filing is processed faster than paper filing. Some people do find technology hard to use and prefer paper filing. But the advantage of hiring a professional tax preparer or CPA is you don’t have to worry about technology. E-filing is also more accurate and faster processing. Everything is becoming paperless now and paper filing is slowly becoming obsolete. In E-filing there is usually a confirmation within 24-48 hours if the return has been processed.
Ask if they will be your backup!
Agents with a PTIN can represent you as the IRS is looking onto your case. They might represent you on audits, payments and collection matters. Tax preparers with just a PTIN won’t be able to represent you whereas agents with a CPA, attorneys and enrolled agents can fully represent you. This can guide you into making a decision as to who to hire for your tax return filing based on your requirement or need.
Above all, do not forget to ask for their availability. Even if they fit every criteria, if they are not available, it will be challenging for you and this might delay your tax return. Contact an Expert Tax Consultant Today.