Get Ready for Tax Season

Tips for choosing a tax preparer you can trust

Taxes…income tax, state tax, federal tax, sales tax, property tax…makes you dizzy just thinking about it — doesn’t it? If you’re like me, it does. That’s why I always have a professional prepare my taxes each year. Hiring a professional tax preparer makes me feel safe — like I dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s.

Many people go this route for the same reasons I do, but if you’re not careful, you can end up with just as big a mess as if you did your taxes yourself. Here’s how to prevent this from happening and having a tax nightmare.

Tip #1 — Check credentials

Only California and Oregon regulate tax preparers so it is up to you to choose a qualified preparer. Ask the following questions:

Experience — How long have they worked as a tax preparer

Association — Are they affiliated with a professional organization that requires its preparers to pursue continuing education and hold them accountable to a code of ethics

Education — What type of training have they received and completed

History — Check with your state Attorney General and on the Internet for complaints filed against them

Tip #2 — Trust and accountability

Is this preparer a person you can trust? Is he or she making claims concerning large returns? Is your preparer willing to sign your the return? If not, this should immediately send up red flags.

Tip #3 — Fees

A professional tax preparer works on flat-fee rates. Avoid tax preparers who base their fee on the amount of your refund.

Tip #4 — Professional attitude

Does your preparer have regular office hours during which you can reach them with little or no problem? Do you have trouble contacting the preparer to set up an appointment? A professional tax preparer should respond in a reasonable amount of time and keep appointments in a timely manner.

Filing taxes can be confusing to the average person. For this reason, hiring a professional to prepare your taxes is well worth the money if you do your homework and hire the right professional. Follow these tips to avoid a tax nightmare.