Checking Out Tax Professionals

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If you'll be getting help with your taxes this year, you probably want to make sure its the best help around. Here's a few tips to make sure your choice for a paid tax professional adds up.

There are any number of ways to file a tax return: you can do yourself, use software…or go to a professional. The IRS isn’t particular.

“What we’re concerned about is that people file an accurate tax return and pay what they’re supposed to and get what refund they’re entitled to.”
-Mike Dobzinski, IRS

You, on the other hand, should be very concerned about who does your taxes….for a very simple reason.

“Whether you use a professional or you do it yourself, you’re the one responsible for what’s on the return.”
-Mike Dobzinski, IRS

So it pays to find the right pro. Personal references are always the best idea. Failing that, check resources like Angie’s list.

Once you’ve narrowed your list to two or three, it’s time to dig a bit. Make an appointment by phone or in person, and ask about experience: particularly with situations like yours.

Ask about credentials. Remember, anyone can call themselves a tax preparer. But CPAs and enrolled agents had to pass a test specific to taxes and keep current with continuing education. And by the way, this question is still relevant even at places like H&R Block.

Are they members of professional organizations? Its no guarantee of expertise, but it does show they take an interest in their profession.

And whereever you go, make sure they’re around all year and not just seasonal. You’ll appreciate that if you get an audit notice in August.

Obviously, the more complex your return, the more important it is to find the right pro. But as with doctors, plumbers or mechanics, some are better than others. So start early, shop around and get the best bang for your accounting buck.

Stacy Johnson

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