Many people hire a professional when it’s time to file their tax return. If you pay someone to prepare your federal income tax return, the IRS encourages you to choose that person carefully.
- Check the credentials of the preparer. All paid tax preparers are required to have a tax preparer identification number or PTIN.
- Check the preparer’s history. Check the website: https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf or their reviews on google or yelp.
- Ask about fees for services. Avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of your refund or those who claim to be able to get you a larger refund than others can get. Always make sure that any pending refund is sent to you or is deposited in your own bank account.
- Ask that your statement be presented by e-file. Certify yourself that your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and submits more than 10 client returns usually must file the returns electronically.
- Make sure your preparer is available. You have to be sure that you can contact your tax preparer after filing your return – even after the April 15 deadline. This can be useful if questions arise about your tax return.
- Provide files and receipts. A good preparer will ask you to check your files and receipts. They will ask questions to determine the total of your income, deductions, tax credits, etc. Do not choose a preparer who is willing to file your return with e-file using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against the IRS e-file rules.
- Never sign a blank statement. Do not choose a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank tax return.
- Review your tax return before signing it. Before signing your tax return, review it and ask questions if something is not clear to you. Make sure you feel comfortable with your return before you sign it.
- Make sure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the returns and include their PTIN as is required by law. The preparer should also give you a copy of the return.
Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS by calling 800-829-3676.