A lot of us opt for a tax preparer to help us out during the tax season. After all, dealing with taxes can be a real confusing experience, especially since the laws change from year to year. So you shouldn't make the mistake of choosing a tax preparer with your eyes closed. It's important to make sure that you work with the right kind of person. And for that, you need to make sure you ask them the right questions. It's important to note that when it comes to tax preparers, there are those who are really qualified and those who aren't. It's up to you to ask the right questions. First on the list is credentials- ask them what kind of training they have as well as what licenses and designations they have. You should also make sure that they will stand by their work and represent you during an audit or collection.
Another question which might seem difficult to ask involves disciplinary action- make sure you ask if the person has been called up by any authority for malpractice. Remember it's better to learn about this beforehand instead of when it's too late.
Next, you need to ask them about their continuing education exercises. Since tax laws change every year, your tax preparer needs to be updating their knowledge for a set number of hours annually. Don't forget to ask about their experience either- working with an experienced person is always a better option. Last but definitely not least, don't forget to ask about their fees and how they are calculated. Getting a list of references is a good idea.
Apart from the straight-forward questions, there are some other aspects you need to be wary about as well. Remember that taxes are one of those things that people like to cheat on- this means that there are a few unscrupulous tax preparers out there. These kinds of people are best avoided as they could land you into trouble. For example, if they tell you that they know all the 'inside secrets' to getting hefty refunds, you might want to find another person.
Also bear in mind that the majority of tax preparers only charge a flat rate- if a person charges you a percentage of your refund, you should think twice about working with them. Make sure that you also have a contact number for your tax preparer even after your returns have been filed.
In that way, you can always get in touch if you have a question or concern later on. But perhaps the most important tip of all- never, ever sign a blank tax form. Remember that being smart about your taxes also means being smart about who prepares them for you.