Many people look for help from professionals when they file their personal income tax return. If you choose to use a tax return preparer, you’ll need to share your most personal information with them, including details about your marital status, income, children, and social security numbers – the details of your financial life.
Most tax return preparers provide outstanding service. However, each year some taxpayers are hurt financially because they choose the wrong tax return preparer.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax return preparer:
• Check the preparer’s qualifications. Ask if your preparer belongs to a professional organization and attends continuing education classes. You can even ask if they would be willing to provide references from some of their other clients. In addition, if dealing with a paid tax return preparer that is preparing U.S. income tax return, ensure that they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (or PTIN) as this is required by all U.S. paid tax return preparers.
• Check on the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has any questionable history. Also check for any disciplinary actions and the status of their professional licenses or associations. For CA’s, CMA’s, CGA’s, or CPA’s check with the respective regulatory bodies.
• Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain large refunds than other preparers. Also, also ensure that any anticipated amount refundable is sent to you or directly deposited into an account in your name. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund(s) into a preparer’s bank account.
• Make sure that the preparer is available. Make sure not only that the preparer will be able to complete and file your return by the due date, also make sure that you will be able to contact the preparer after you file your return. This may be helpful in the event questions arise about your tax return; either questions that you may have yourself, or questions that the CRA or the IRS or other taxing authority may have.
• Provide records and receipts. Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts. They will ask questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for deductions, credit, and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to finalize and e-file your return by using your last pay stub before you receive your T4 slip or Form W-2. This is against e-file rules.
• Never sign a blank return or form. Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank tax form or authorization form.
• Review your return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
If you decide to use a paid tax preparer, remember that you are legally responsible for what is on the return – even if someone else prepared the return for you.
We recommend taking the time to meet with a Quon & Associates professional who will go through and respect your personal information, ensuring that your personal income tax return is filed correctly and on time. Call us or visit our website for more information. 403-250-5111