IRS Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer
2010-03-24 · By Editor
While most tax return preparers provide excellent service to their clients, the Internal Revenue Service urges people to be very careful when choosing a return preparer this filing season.
“Income tax return preparers occupy a unique position in our system of taxation. Their position is unique in that they are trusted by their clients to help them pay the least amount of tax allowed under the law and they are trusted by the IRS to follow the law,” said Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS – Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The key is the law. Those return preparers that violate the law, for their own benefit or for the benefit of themselves and their clients, will be prosecuted.”
Helpful Hints When Choosing a Return Preparer
1. Be cautious of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
2. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund. Use a reputable tax professional who signs the tax return and provides a copy.
3. Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed.
4. Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collection and appeals. Other return preparers may only represent taxpayers for audits of returns they actually prepared.
5. Find out if the tax preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources and holds them to a code of ethics.
6. Reputable tax preparers will ask to see receipts and will ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify. By doing so, they are trying to help their clients avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes that could result from an IRS examination.
“As a part of its national strategy, IRS – Criminal Investigation is committed to identifying, investigating, and prosecuting those income tax return preparers who exploit our nation’s tax laws and violate the public trust for their own personal financial gain,” DeMarco concluded.