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Tips to Follow Before Hiring a Tax Preparer

Hiring a tax preparer can be a helpful way to file your taxes, but it's important to choose the right one. With tax season here, the Arizona Department of Revenue advises taxpayers to do their due diligence before hiring a tax preparer. As a taxpayer, you are responsible for the accuracy of your tax return, whether you prepare it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

Lisa Keefer from Canyon State Accounting & Tax Service, a local San Tan Valley accounting and bookkeeping firm, says, "It's crucial to do your research before hiring a tax preparer to ensure they are a good fit for you and your specific tax needs. You want to make sure that the tax preparer has the right qualifications, experience, and knowledge to provide accurate and reliable tax services. Don't hesitate to ask for references or check their reviews to ensure they are trustworthy and provide quality service. Remember, the accuracy of your tax return is your responsibility, so it's important to choose a tax preparer that you can trust."

Although most tax preparers are legitimate and qualified, there are some who may make false promises or even commit fraud. In 2021, more than half of all taxpayers used tax preparation services, according to the IRS. To avoid being scammed, here are some things you should know before hiring a tax preparer.

Steps to Take When Choosing a Tax Preparer:

  • Find out what kind of formal training the preparer has and how recent it is.
  • Inquire about how long the preparer has been preparing tax returns.
  • Check the preparer's reviews and history to see how they perform and their business practices. If they are a CPA, check with the State Board of Accountancy. If they are an attorney, check with the State Bar Association.
  • Ask about the costs and service fees. Be cautious of preparers who base their fees on a percentage of your refund or who promise larger refunds.
  • Choose a tax preparer who is available year-round. That way, if you have any questions about your return, you can contact them even after tax season has ended.
  • Ask the preparer to explain how they prepared your return in case of an audit by the ADOR or the IRS.
  • Ensure that any refund goes directly into your bank account, not the preparer's.

What You Should Do as a Taxpayer:

  • Make sure the tax preparer gives you a copy of the entire return, including all schedules, especially those for itemized deductions or credits.
  • Confirm that you understand your return and ask the preparer to explain any deductions, credits, and wages claimed.
  • Ask the preparer to sign the return and list their preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
  • Before signing and submitting your return, review it to ensure that the numbers are correct and that the schedules add up to the preparer's source documents.
  • Request that the preparer electronically file your return for a quicker, more accurate return. Paid preparers who do taxes for more than 10 clients must file electronically.

Hiring a tax preparer can be helpful, but it's important to choose the right one to avoid being scammed or having your tax return filed incorrectly. By following these tips, you can feel confident in your choice of a tax preparer and in the accuracy of your return. 

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Saturday, 18 May 2024

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