Getting Tax Help From Tax Preparers
Filing taxes can be a stressful and confusing process, even for those who have been doing it for years. With constantly changing tax laws and regulations, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the new information. This is where tax preparers come in. Tax preparers can provide valuable assistance in navigating the complex world of taxes, helping you save money and avoid problems with the IRS.
What Is a Tax Preparer?
A tax preparer is someone who prepares and files income tax returns on behalf of individuals, businesses, and other organizations. They can be certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents (EAs), attorneys, or simply trained tax professionals. Tax preparers may work for themselves, for a tax preparation firm, or for another organization.
The Benefits of Using a Tax Preparer
There are many benefits to using a tax preparer. Here are just a few:
1. Saves Time
Filing taxes can be a time-consuming process, especially if you have complex financial situations such as multiple income sources, deductions, and credits. A tax preparer can help you save time by doing the work for you, so you can focus on other important tasks.
2. Saves Money
A good tax preparer can help you save money by identifying deductions and credits you may have missed, and making sure you take advantage of all available tax benefits. They can also help you avoid expensive mistakes, such as underreporting income or claiming deductions that are not legitimate.
3. Reduces Stress
Filing taxes can be a stressful process, especially if you are not familiar with the tax code. A tax preparer can take the burden off your shoulders and handle everything for you. This can help reduce your stress levels and give you peace of mind.
4. Offers Expertise
Tax preparers have expertise and knowledge about the tax code and tax laws that the average person may not have. They can provide valuable advice and guidance on tax planning strategies, investment decisions, and other financial matters.
5. Provides Assurance
A tax preparer can help you avoid problems with the IRS by ensuring that your tax return is accurate and complete. If the IRS does raise questions or audits your return, your tax preparer can provide assistance and representation.
Finding a Tax Preparer
There are many options when it comes to finding a tax preparer. Here are some of the most common:
1. Online Tax Preparation Services
Online tax preparation services such as TurboTax and H&R Block allow you to prepare and file your taxes online. These services are often inexpensive and can be a good option for those who have simple tax situations.
2. Tax Preparation Firms
Tax preparation firms such as Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Service offer in-person tax preparation services. These firms often have multiple locations and can be a good choice for those who prefer to work with a tax preparer face-to-face.
3. Independent Tax Preparers
Independent tax preparers are self-employed tax professionals who work for themselves. They may have their own offices or work out of their homes. Independent tax preparers can be a good option for those who want personalized attention and are willing to pay a higher fee.
Choosing the Right Tax Preparer
Choosing the right tax preparer is important, as you want to make sure you are working with someone who is qualified and experienced. Here are some tips for choosing the right tax preparer:
1. Check Credentials
Make sure your tax preparer has the appropriate credentials, such as a CPA or EA license. You can verify this information through the IRS or state licensing board.
2. Ask for References
Ask for references from friends, family, or colleagues who have used the tax preparer before. This can help you get a sense of their experience and professionalism.
3. Ask About Fees
Make sure you understand the fees associated with your tax preparation services. Some tax preparers charge a flat fee, while others charge by the hour or based on the complexity of your tax return.
4. Check for Red Flags
Be wary of tax preparers who make outrageous promises, charge exorbitant fees, or encourage you to take questionable deductions or credits. These are red flags that could indicate unscrupulous behavior.
5. Check for Availability
Make sure your tax preparer is available when you need them, especially during tax season. You don’t want to be left without assistance if you have a last-minute question or issue.
Types of Tax Preparers
There are several types of tax preparers, each with their own set of qualifications and specialties. Here are some of the most common types of tax preparers:
1. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
CPAs are licensed accountants who have passed the Uniform CPA Examination and met their state’s licensing requirements. They can provide a wide range of tax preparation and financial services, including auditing, bookkeeping, and tax planning.
2. Enrolled Agents (EAs)
EAs are tax professionals who have passed a comprehensive three-part exam administered by the IRS. They can represent taxpayers before the IRS in matters such as audits, collections, and appeals.
Attorneys are licensed professionals who can provide legal advice and representation in matters related to taxes and finances. They can provide assistance with tax planning, estate planning, and other related issues.
4. Unenrolled Tax Professionals
Unenrolled tax professionals are tax preparers who are not licensed EAs, CPAs, or attorneys. They may have other certifications or training, but their qualifications are not regulated by any governing body.
IRS Resources for Finding a Tax Preparer
The IRS provides several resources for finding a qualified tax preparer. Here are some of the most useful:
1. IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications
This directory allows you to search for tax preparers based on their credentials and certifications. You can enter your zip code to find tax preparers near you.
2. IRS Free File
This program offers free tax preparation and filing services for taxpayers who meet certain eligibility requirements. The IRS partners with several tax preparation firms to offer these services.
3. IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs
These programs offer free tax preparation and filing services for eligible taxpayers. VITA is for taxpayers with incomes below $57,000, while TCE is for taxpayers aged 60 and older.
Getting tax help from a qualified tax preparer can be a valuable investment for your financial future. By choosing the right tax preparer and utilizing their expertise, you can save time, money, and stress while ensuring that your tax return is accurate and complete. Use the resources provided by the IRS to find a qualified tax preparer near you, and take advantage of the many benefits that come with working with a professional.
There are many professionals and companies who specialize in tax preparation services. Many people will choose to use a professional tax preparer to make the process of filing income tax easier and less stressful. This will also ensure that the taxes have been filed properly, and will reduce the chances of being audited. Some people may also have complicated tax situations with income from a variety of places that require the expertise of a professional.
Most people want to ensure that they are paying as little as possible for taxes, claiming all expenses that can be counted as deductions, and receiving the largest refund possible. These are just some of the reasons why tax preparers are useful. When locating a professional tax preparer, most people will rely on referrals. Suggestions by a family, friend, or attorney are a useful way of obtaining the most qualified tax preparer.
Franchises, such as H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt, will have a full staff of tax preparers for hire. When working with these individuals, clients should ask certain questions up front to ensure that they are receiving the best services possible. They may ask what type of license or certification the tax preparer has. Especially if the tax payer has a unique situations, he or she should be aware of the specific expertise of the tax preparer. Tax preparers also charge fees for their services, and may calculate this in a variety of ways.
Some tax preparers will base their fee on the amount of forms they are required to fill out. This will vary from client to client. Sometimes the fee will be based on an hourly rate. A client should be aware of exactly what is included in the set fee. There are certain pricing techniques that not legal for use by tax preparers.
For example, a fee that is based on a percentage of the amount that the tax payer will receive in refund is not valid. A tax preparer cannot use a contingency based fee, or a fee that is based on certain information contained in the person’s income taxes. It is also important for the client to be sure that the tax preparer has performed his or her services appropriately.
Often it will not be the tax preparer, but the tax payer, that is responsible for any mistakes made when filing returns. The client should be sure that the professional has signed all the appropriate forms, and has not left any information blank.
The client should know in advance what documents will be needed by the tax preparer. Having the appropriate forms and paperwork will make the process easier. The tax preparer will need personal identification paperwork for the tax payer as well as any dependents that are being claimed. This may include a Social Security card or a birth certificate.
The tax payer will also need to show all earning statements and records of expenses. Earning statements include a W-2 form from an employer, a 1099 form for any stocks and bonds, and statements from Social Security or other benefits. Keeping organized receipts will also help the tax preparer to perform his job as quickly as possible.