7 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Tax Professional

Save money on filing my taxes

Tax season is in full effect and saving money on your tax preparation may help you with other bills or even a night out on the town. Here are some tips to help you reduce your tax preparation expenses.

How much will you pay?

Tax preparers vary in the way they charge for their services. Find out if you will be charged by the hour, a flat fee, or depending on the complexity of your return.

Who will be preparing your return?

Not all tax professionals are created equal and not all tax professionals have the right to represent you before the IRS in the instance of an audit. You shouldn’t assume that a CPA will be completing your tax return. A tax professional can range from a CPA, tax attorney, or an enrolled agent.

What are the tax preparers credentials?

You can find a CPA in your state at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants website and click on “For The Public.” On the CPAverify website, you can verify your credentials and other pertinent information related to the individual you’re considering. To find contact information for the board in your state, go to the website of the National Association Of State Boards Of Accountancy.

Do you qualify for free income tax preparation?

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers IRS-certified volunteers who provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers.

What are additional services available for active service members?

If you or one of your family members are active services members in the military, you may be eligible for free tax preparation services. Many military bases have legal offices with tax centers that do free preparation of state and federal taxes.

Will the preparer file your tax returns electronically?

More than 90 percent of US tax returns are now e-filed. Electronic filing can reduce errors and result in faster refunds.

What tax preparers should I avoid?

Even among trained, certified professionals, there are some bad apples. In particular, you may want to steer clear of a preparer who bases fees on your refund, guarantees a refund, won’t answer your questions or doesn’t want to sign your return.

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