Hi, I’m Patrick, and I work for the IRS.
Tax preparers see a lot of personal information from their clients.
If you pay someone to do your taxes, know that most preparers are honest and trustworthy.
But each year, we see taxpayers who suffer financially because they make a poor choice of tax preparer.
So, here are some tips to help you choose.
First, find out about their qualifications.
What is their training?
Do they keep up with the latest changes by taking continuing education classes?
And do they have a professional license?
Enrolled agents, certified public accountants and attorneys have met substantial proficiency requirements.
The IRS has an online directory to help you research qualified tax return preparers.
It includes those who have a professional credential, or have voluntarily taken continuing education as part of the IRS Annual Filing Season Program.
Next, be wary of anyone who promises you a bigger tax refund before even looking at your records, or someone who wants you to sign a blank or unfinished tax return, or offers to deposit your refund into their bank account.
You should also make sure the preparer you choose offers IRS e-file.
And definitely refuse to use a preparer who does not sign their name and enter a Preparer Tax Identification Number on your final tax return.
That’s a major clue that something is not right.
As you make your decision about a return preparer, keep in mind that only attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents have unlimited representation rights.
That means they can represent you before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collection and appeals.
Other preparers without credentials, but who participate in the Annual Filing Season Program, have limited representation rights and can only represent you in limited situations.
In general, tax return preparers not listed in the IRS directory may prepare your tax return, but will not be able to represent you with the IRS if there are problems after your return is filed.
No matter who you choose to help with your tax return, remember, you are legally responsible for all the information on your tax return.
To find out more, go to irs.gov/chooseataxpro.