Surviving tax season doesn’t have to be a solo mission. There are plenty of tax professionals ready right now to lighten your load leading into the April 15 deadline to file. Millions of Americans will ultimately lean on someone else to take care of their math and paperwork, especially this year. If you plan to be one of them, make sure you’re connecting with a preparer you can trust.
Here are six tips you should count on for finding the right tax professional:
- Reach out to family and friends for references.
One of the best ways to find someone you need to trust is to ask someone you already trust. So, source your family and social network for recommendations. If they can vouch for the services of a tax preparer, then their endorsements should be an indicator of where to turn first.
- Keep track of credentials.
Don’t be shy about reviewing a few resumes. The tax preparer you choose should be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney, or an enrolled agent in order for them to represent you to the IRS. Beyond those basic qualifications, find out if the preparer is a member of any reputable professional associations. For example, are they endorsed by the National Association of Tax Professionals or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants?
- Find out about any fees.
If you choose to use a tax preparer, their help comes with a cost. So, make sure you know exactly what fees are associated with their services. Do not agree to anything until you’ve carefully read a contract and gotten answers to all your questions regarding charges. Fees can change or get added on depending on the type of return you’re filing. Ask now or pay later.
- Experience means everything.
You may want to consider the tax preparer’s work history before giving them the reins to your tax information. Do some research on their reputation within the industry, years of experience completing the return type you need to file, and their track record with customers. If their reviews are less than positive, that’s a sign to explore some other options.
- Ask about their availability.
See if the preparer will be around after you’ve filed your taxes. If any problems come from your return, will they be available to guide you through what’s next? For example, what can they do in case of an audit? Yes, you need help right now, but you might need more in the future. Find out if the tax preparer can assist with any future needs.
- Stay grounded.
Some tax preparers promise larger tax returns if you use their services. Don’t buy the hype. If you’re guaranteed a higher return, or the preparer’s commission is based on how much you get back, they may be using some less-than-ethical tactics to get you that extra cash. Those tricks could end up costing you in the long run.
The easiest way to spot a legit tax preparer near you is to look them up at BBB.org. It’s a one-stop landing spot for reading customer reviews and complaints. Plus, you can see which one’s adhere to our Standards For Trust.
If you’re a tax preparer who wants to stand out among the competition, look into becoming a BBB Accredited Business. The application to join our network of trustworthy businesses starts here.