If you are looking for tax help, there are a few things you should keep in mind besides vetting the tax preparer. The following tips will help you find the right tax preparer or tax advisor.
PTINs (Preparer Tax Identification Numbers) are Available
A preparer tax identification number, or PTIN, is required for anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation. Volunteer tax preparers do not require PTINs since they do not prepare taxes for compensation. In addition to the PTIN number, make sure your income tax preparer includes it on your return; the IRS requires it as well.
A CPA, Law License or Enrolled Agent Designation
If you want to go the extra mile, seek out a credentialed preparer – someone who is also a certified public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent (EA), or licensed attorney (LAW). In general, these professionals are held to a higher standard of education and expertise depending on their designation.
Tax professionals who have completed the IRS’ Annual Filing Season program may also be able to help. There are several programs that preparers can use to fulfill the Annual Filing Season Program requirements, including Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor and Accredited Tax Preparer.
Do you know where to find the best tax preparer near you with the credentials you need? Searching the IRS’s directory is one option. The program includes preparers who hold a PTIN and have professional credentials recognized by the IRS. This database will not include volunteers or preparers with only PTINs.
Seek Out High-Ranking Friends
In a tax advisor, membership in a professional organization is always a good thing, since most have codes of ethics, professional conduct requirements, and certification programs, such as the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or the American Academy of Attorney CPAs.
Look for tax planning or advisory services from your financial advisor if you already have one. You might be able to easily connect with a tax advisor through their firm.
Find Out What a Tax Preparer Charges
What does a tax preparer charge? Approximately $210 is estimated to be the average fee for preparing a non-itemized Form 1040 in 2023, according to a Drake Software survey of over 3,600 tax preparers. The fee jumps to $256 for an itemized Form 1040.
There are usually two types of fees charged by tax preparers: a set fee per form and schedule or a minimum fee plus costs based on complexity. An accountant who charges based on how much you refund or who promises a larger refund than the next person should be avoided.
Consider Tax Advisors who do not E-File
Tax preparers who prepare more than 11 returns for clients must use the IRS’s e-filing system to file electronically. A preparation that does not offer e-filing may indicate that the preparer doesn’t do as much as you thought.
Make Sure They Sign
Paid preparers who sign their clients’ returns need PTINs. Tax preparers could put anything on a blank tax return, even their bank account number, enabling them to steal your refund. Don’t sign a blank tax return.
Ensure Your Tax Preparer is on Your Side
The IRS is represented by enrolled agents, CPAs, and attorneys with PTINs during audits, payments, and collection issues, as well as appeals. PTINs aren’t enough for preparers to do this – even when they have prepared your return. In limited circumstances, preparers who have completed the Annual Filing Season Program may represent clients.
Another important factor is availability. You can still contact the best tax preparers after filing season is over, respond to emails, or visit them in person.
The benefits of getting help online may outweigh the benefits of meeting with an advisor face-to-face. When you file online, many tax preparers offer live support, so if you have a question, you can get assistance immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it make sense to hire a tax preparer?
In some cases, all you really need is a free filing service if you have a pretty straightforward tax return. Rather than seeing an in-person tax professional, tax packages from providers can be a less expensive option for people with more complex tax situations. Speak with a professional if you run a small business, have a tricky tax year, or just to connect.
How can I find the cheapest tax software?
Tax software from several brand-name providers is available for free to taxpayers who earned less than $73,000 in 2022. You can also file your taxes for FREE with Line which offers maximum refunds with guaranteed accuracy and error-free returns.
What is the deadline for filing my taxes?
Tax filers must file taxes by April 18, 2023, for the tax year 2022.