The National Society of Accountants writes about the questions individuals should ask when hiring a tax preparer.  Their list includes the following questions:

  • Are you registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with a Personal Tax Identification Number (PTIN)? (Every paid tax preparer is required to have a PTIN so make sure they do.)
  • Do you offer a free initial consultation? (Most tax preparers do.)
  • How do you keep up with the latest tax law? (Staying current with the tax law is critical and preparers should be able to describe the continuing education courses they take.)
  • Are you a member of any professional tax or accounting organizations? (Membership in at least one professional organization shows a commitment to being a tax preparer and offers them resources to help do their jobs well.)
  • What are your professional credentials? (Credentials typically demonstrate a high level of experience and ethics.)
  • How do you determine your fee to prepare my return(s)? Is it a fixed fee or an hourly rate? (Either way is fine as long as you are given complete fee or hourly rate information.)
  • When do you require payment? (Some will charge a portion of the fee up front, others will ask for progress payments during the preparation period, and some will bill you after the tax return is completed.)
  • Can I contact you after tax season if needed regarding my return? (The answer should be “Yes” and the person who completes the return should be the one available.)
  • Who will prepare my return? Will it be you or someone else in your office? (Make sure you find out and make sure the person has experience and credentials.)
  • Can you e-file my return? (Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns must e-file their clients’ returns.)

Read the full article at Questions to Ask When Hiring a Tax Preparer.

Posted by Lewis J. Saret, Co-General Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.