It is cliché that the only thing certain in life is death and taxes. The other thing that death and taxes have in common is that both can be a bit frightening for some people. With taxes, at least, you can find help. There are many people that can assist you. If you know what you are doing, and you are comfortable doing your own taxes, you can even get free help from the IRS.
However, many people do not have simple tax situations, and they prefer the peace of mind that comes with hiring a professional. If that describes you, please know that there is not a lot of regulation of tax preparers. You want to be careful when you make your choice. The IRS published a list of tips for choosing a tax preparer. The article is from last year, but the advice is still good.
Here’s the list:
- Check the Preparer’s Qualifications.
- Check the Preparer’s History
- Ask about Service Fees.
- Ask to E-File.
- Make Sure the Preparer is Available.
- Provide Records and Receipts.
- Never Sign a Blank Return.
- Review Before Signing.
- Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN.
- Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS.
You can read the details directly on the IRS website. The short version of the article is to check the preparer’s qualifications and make sure the prepare will be there after tax season, ask questions, provide documentation, efile and don’t sign blank returns. If you do come across a tax preparer that acts unprofessionally or unethically, report him or her to the IRS.
The first day to file your 2017 returns will be January 29, 2018 this year. You should wait to visit your tax professional until you have organized all of your documents. However, it is probably a good idea to go on and make an appointment now so that you will be at the front of the line. Good tax professionals are busy this time of year.