Mar 31, 2016 4:37 PM
“It’s not an easy read for you. It’s constantly changing, it has changed every year.” – Steven St. Pierre, Certified Public Accountant.
St. Pierre is talking about this year’s tax code, which is 70,536 pages—a big reason why about half of taxpayers decide to hire a pro to prepare their tax returns. Remember, these people are entrusted with your most personal, valuable information, so you want to be careful about who you hire—especially in this crunch time.
First of all, check the preparer’s qualifications. The IRS has a searchable directory. All you have to do is type in your zip code.
Ask about service fees. You want to avoid preparers who charged based on how much you get in your return.
“When you go and see the tax wizard, and he tells you before you sit down, ‘I’m going to get you a certain size refund,’ it’s a red flag. There’s no way any one can actually say that without knowing the specifics,” says St. Pierre.
Provide records and receipts. The goods ones want to see your paperwork. You don’t want someone to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your W-2. That’s against IRS rules.
Never sign a blank return. Ever.
The preparer must sign and include their Preparer Tax Identification Number. When it’s complete, they also have to sign the return – that you review before filing – and they have to include their PTIN.
In the end, you’re responsible for what you file.
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