What Should I Consider When Choosing a Tax Preparer?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2020
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When choosing a tax preparer, it's important to examine your options carefully. An unqualified tax preparer may overlook possible deductions, make mistakes that result in penalties, and even get you into serious legal trouble. It's important to remember that in case of a problem, it's the taxpayer, not the tax preparer, who's responsible for the information on the tax return forms.

When choosing a tax preparer, avoid anyone who claims she can obtain large refunds for you or who guarantees results. This is not only unlikely; it is also illegal. A tax preparer is also not allowed to charge a contingency fee or to offer to help you file papers with inflated or false deductions.

Look for a tax preparer who is accredited and doesn't have any history of complaints filed against him in the Better Business Bureau or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Avoid firms at which secretaries or students prepare taxes. Such services are usually cheaper, but they put you in the hands of someone with little training.

Ask any potential tax preparer about service fees beforehand. Make sure you're paying a flat fee that includes all required services and paperwork. Do not agree to payments based on a percentage of returns. This is often a sign of an unscrupulous firm that inflates deductions.


Choose a tax preparer who is willing to help you with any concerns you may have. Make sure she can answer your questions both during and after filing. If you're unsure about the professionalism of a tax preparer, ask for references from past clients.

A tax preparer can charge anything from 40 US dollars (USD) for a simple filing to 200 USD for an itemized return. For a simple, basic return, you can choose a chain tax preparer such as H&R Block, which is usually the cheapest choice. If you want somebody more qualified, choose a tax preparer who is also a certified public accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent, both of which specialize in taxes and may be better able to handle complicated deductions. Keep in mind that professionals in large cities are usually more expensive.



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Post 1

Who pays for the tax error if information was left off: the preparer or payer?

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