Tax Day is quickly approaching. Are you ready? Most people wait until the last minute to file their taxes or even find a tax preparer to help them. This leaves them rushing their search and often ending up with an unqualified tax preparer. Use the tips below to find the best tax preparer in your area.
Any person who prepares or assists in preparing federal taxes is required by the IRS to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). You'll need to write this number on your tax return form. Ask your preparer for their number before agreeing to work with them. This way, you can be sure that they're legally allowed to prepare your taxes. Keep in mind that volunteer preparers don't need PTINs, only those working for compensation do.
A PTIN isn't enough to ensure that you're working with the best tax preparer. Take your search a step further and find a credentialed preparer. This includes people who are also licensed attorneys, enrolled agents, certified public accountants, and people who have completed the IRS’ Annual Filing Season program. All of these additional credentials require varying degrees of study and education.
A membership at a prestigious professional organization is another sign of a qualified and skilled tax preparer. Such organizations include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Tax Professionals, the American Academy of Attorney CPAs, and the National Association of Enrolled Agents. All of these groups have their own code of ethics, certification programs, and professional conduct requirements, which provides even more evidence of a tax preparer’s overall quality of work.
Make a list of all the tax preparers you're considering and compare their fees. In 2018, the average fee for preparing a tax return with an itemized Form 1040 with Schedule A and a state tax return was $294. Without itemized deductions, the average cost was $188. Typically, tax preparers charge you by the hour. If a tax preparer says their fee is based on the size of your refund or who promises they can get you a bigger refund, keep looking for a new tax preparer. These are both major red flags. Instead, try to find someone who offers tax preparation services in Reno, NV, for a reasonable price that is somewhere around the average price.
Both you and your tax preparer must sign your tax return before filing it. Don’t sign a blank tax return form. If you do, the preparer could put anything on the form, including their own bank account information to steal your refund from you. Avoid working with any tax preparer who encourages you to sign before the work is done.
Though professional qualifications and costs are very important, customer service is equally important for your experience. You don’t want to work with a tax preparer who's trying to rush you out the door every time you need to ask them a question. Instead, find a preparer who is patient, communicative, and treats you like you're their only client.
To learn more about professional tax preparation in Reno, NV, and to find the best tax preparer, contact us at Advantage Tax & Business Services today!
Lawrence Wurzel, E.A.