When it comes to filing taxes every year, there are numerous laws that change and regulations that pop up or expire that many tax payers know little about. If a person is a simple employee who does not own their own home and works a minimum wage job to pay the bills, filing a simple tax return is possible. However, for many people, there are other concerns, such as home ownership, children, education expenses and more. All of that makes a tax professional a solid bet. Here is a look at how a person can go about finding the right tax professional for their needs.
Check The Credentials Of The Tax Professional
Anyone can claim to be a tax expert and offer to prepare taxes for someone. The IRS tried to mandate that all tax preparers be forced to take tests to keep their license and ability to file taxes, but the federal court ruled it was not legal. This means that it is up to the tax payer to determine if the tax professional is credentialed. A CFP is a financial planner, but not necessarily a tax perpetration expert. A CPA is certified as an accountant. An EA is the highest credentialed when it comes to tax preparers. Anyone with a PTIN number has taken the voluntary IRS tests to prove they are up to date on all tax laws.
What Is The Tax Professional’s Expertise?
Up next is determining if the tax professional is the right one for a person’s specific needs. If someone is self-employed, does the tax professional understand all the laws, regulations and deductions that go along with being self-employed? Does the tax professional know all the state laws for the state in which the tax payer lives? If the person moved from one state to another during the year, does the tax professional know the state laws for both states? There are a ton of special circumstances in every tax payer’s world, so make sure the tax professional is qualified for all of these.
Make Sure The Tax Professional Won’t Disappear
Every year, tax booths pop up everywhere, from big box stores to storefronts that don’t exist throughout the rest of the year. A tax professional should be available year-round for questions. If a tax payer gets audited, the tax professional who filed the taxes needs to be on hand for questions. If a tax professional is only around until April and then disappears, do not hire that person unless they have another office location to find them at.
Trust The Tax Professional
The most important thing that a person needs is trust in the person filing their taxes. Ask a lot of questions. Ask if the tax professional is who will be signing the tax return. If he or she is not, do not go with them because they are not trusting their own work with their name. Ask how they determine their fees, rather than what they charge. If they start to offer questionable advice on getting more money back, beware. If they will cheat the IRS, they might cheat their own customers as well. Feel comfortable with the tax professional, trust them, and choose the one that is best for a person’s personal and professional needs.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.