Six Important Considerations When Choosing a Tax Preparer

Six Important Considerations When Choosing a Tax Preparer

September 17, 2020

Income tax preparers operate from a position of great trust. You will supply this professional with personal and financial information and rely on them to prepare your tax return correctly. If something goes wrong, the impacts are often immense. Rather than approach this situation blindly, here are six things to consider when choosing your income tax preparer in San Leandro, CA:

  • Check qualifications: The IRS offers a directory of tax return preparers. It indicates credentials, including whether they are a CPA, Enrolled Agent or general tax return preparer. The directory also allows you to review the qualifications of tax attorneys and other professionals who may be instrumental to your tax situation. You can also check an individual’s background through their licensing agency. For California CPAs, that will be the State Board of Accountancy, and for attorneys, the California Bar Association. Enrolled agents are verified through the IRS website.
  • Read reviews: Online reviews and personal referrals are also an effective way to assess tax preparation professionals. If a friend or relative recommends someone, that is likely a trustworthy referral, and the same is true if they did not like their tax preparer. Yelp reviews will praise professionals, or you may get a heads-up on whether you should avoid someone. While there may be one individual who is never happy with anything, a majority of good reviews is a good sign.
  • Clear up fee arrangements: Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or claim they can secure a larger refund than the competition. They may take unsavory steps to maximize your refund that may get you audited later. Do not give a preparer any documents until the fee arrangements are clear to you.
  • Confirm availability: You may need to contact your tax preparer after the tax filing deadline. If they are only in business during tax season and are not available after deadlines, you are inching into dangerous territory. Tax preparers should not be fly-by-night operations, and if you need them to revise a tax return or help you with an audit, their office should still be open.
  • Never sign a blank return: You need to review all forms before they are filed. Signing a blank form leaves you vulnerable to mistakes or suspicious tax preparation methods. Even when you hire a tax preparer, you are still responsible for any mistakes that arise on the return. Blank forms may also indicate that they will not e-file your return, and that results in a slower refund. Avoid this bad sign all around and move on to the next option.
  • Check for PTIN: If you hire a tax preparer, they should have a unique Preparer Tax Identification Number. This number and their signature should be provided on every return. Be wary if you do not see this information when you visit to sign your return.

If you seek reputable income tax preparers in Hayward, CA, Menjivar & Company CPAs, Inc. is available. We are your local income tax return specialists and offer timely, personalized service. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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