Making sure you have paid the government what you owe is important. If you do not, you could face serious fines or even jail time. If you aren’t comfortable doing the paperwork yourself, you should find a tax preparation service to do it for you. How do you choose the right one?
Ask About Continuing Education
The IRS has instituted the Annual Filing Season Program, which is a voluntary continuing education program. It is open to any preparer, but it is targeted for those who don’t get their credentials through professional associations. Before you hire someone to prepare your return, check to see what certifications they hold and if they are taking continuing education courses.
Ask About Preparer Tax Identification Number and Who Signs the Return
When you are trying to determine who should work on your IRS forms, ask about their PTIN. This number must be valid in order to prepare federal paperwork legally for compensation. You don’t want to find out after the fact that they don’t have a number or it’s not valid for the year.
Because the PTIN is so important, be sure to ask who is going to be signing the return. Don’t work with a person who refuses to sign. You should also be wary of any company that won’t tell you in advance who is going to be working on your paperwork.
Ask What Type of Returns They Usually Prepare
It’s no secret that there are many different types of tax forms. You may only be familiar with the one you have to file each year. The same can be said for some certified public accountants. A long time handler, however, will be familiar with a wide array of forms. Don’t be afraid to ask if the person is familiar with the documents you need.
Ask About Knowledge of State and Local Requirements
It sounds like a given that your preparer should know the requirements for the state you’re in. However, if you have recently moved to a different state, you may still have to file in your former home state. Because requirements vary from each state, your tax preparation specialist may not know all the laws of the other state. This is an important question to ask if you’ve recently moved.
Tax preparation is a big job. You need to find someone who can handle all the paperwork both legally and efficiently.