Get the tax help you deserve
Tax season can be confusing even without the added stress of choosing the best tax preparer to help you navigate your return. ? Here are five questions you should ask so you get the tax help you deserve.
1. What is your tax situation?
Before you determine which tax preparer you should go with, investigate your alternatives. Doing your taxes online through software like TaxSlayer may prove to be easier and less expensive. But be careful; doing your taxes without the help of a tax professional may result in accidental errors or omissions. If you have a more complicated tax situation (i.e., own a small business or itemizing deductions), you may choose to work with a tax specialist instead.
2. How much is it going to cost?
The amount a tax preparer charges can vary depending on the complexity of your particular tax situation and your assets. According to the National Society of Accountants, you can expect the fee to be between $176 and $273. Many tax preparers charge by the hour, so beware if you come across one whose fee is based on the size of your refund – and offers to get you a bigger tax refund than the competition.
3. Is your tax preparer available when you have questions?
Does your tax specialist answer your phone calls and emails promptly? Is he or she available for questions even after tax season is over? Your specialist’s availability and willingness to help will help you make the most educated decisions so that you feel comfortable with your return.
4. What credentials does your tax specialist have?
Anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation is required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Make sure your tax person includes this number on your tax return. If you choose to go with a volunteer preparer, who does not receive compensation, that person will not be required to have a PTIN.
You may want a tax professional with further credentials. A PTIN is relatively easy to get, so consider individuals who are also Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), licensed attorneys, or who have completed the IRS’ Annual Filing Season Program.
5. Does your tax specialist belong to a professional organization?
Many nationally recognized organizations for tax specialists (i.e., the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) have a code of ethics and professional standards to which their members must adhere. Ask if your tax preparer belongs to a professional organization and how long they’ve been involved.
Neither MoneyLion nor its affiliates are tax professionals. This advertisement should not be construed as tax advice. You should consult with an experienced tax professional should you have specific questions about your tax preparation strategy.