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7 Tips for Finding Trustworthy Tax Help

by Ben Spradling | Mar 18, 2021 10:06:45 AM

Surviving tax season doesn’t have to be a solo mission. There are plenty of tax professionals ready 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 this year as the domino effect from the COVID-19 pandemic continued into 2021. If you plan to be one of them, make sure you’re connecting with a preparer you can trust.

Here are seven 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. 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 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 there are any issues with 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 later. 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.

Utilize BBB as a resource.

Look up the business on BBB’s website before hiring a tax preparer. BBB.org has individual business profiles disclosing whether the company is BBB Accredited, its letter rating, potential consumer alerts, detailed customer complaints, and information on how the business is responding to concerns. Taking that additional step will give you a better idea of the company’s reputation. If any issues arise, you can also submit a complaint to seek a resolution.

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.

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