To choose the best personal tax preparation service, it is best to do some research on your own ahead of time, and determine the extent of your personal taxes. Some tax returns are actually quite simple, and with the help of software or even free online options found through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, you may be able to complete your taxes yourself. Otherwise, there are certain things you will want to keep in mind when choosing a personal tax preparation service, such as the preparer's credentials and level of expertise, as well as fees.
You may choose to use a chain company to do your personal tax preparation; these are the companies that you will often see with booths set up in grocery stores, or they may have walk-in locations in malls or other business buildings. These can be fairly inexpensive and a good choice for people who may be slightly overwhelmed trying to do their taxes independently, but still have a relatively straightforward return. If you are concerned about getting audited, preparing the return yourself or using a chain to prepare your return might not be the best option.
Personal tax preparation done by a certified public accountant (CPA) or enrolled agent is the most expensive option, but it is also the most secure. According to the IRS, only a CPA, tax attorney, or enrolled agent can legally represent you if you are audited or questioned by the IRS for any reason. This is important to note because although a public accountant can prepare your taxes, unless he or she is a CPA, he will not be able to legally represent you. This is why it is important to check credentials when selecting someone for personal tax preparation. In addition, it is best to choose a company or tax preparer who will charge you a standard fee, not a fee based on the amount of your tax refund, as well as one who is readily available to answer your questions.
No matter who does your personal tax preparation, your refund should remain about the same across the board. You should have receipts and other documentation ready to go when you meet with your tax preparer, and you should always carefully review your tax return before submitting it to the IRS. Both you and the tax preparer are legally required to sign it, and if there are mistakes, you will still be held responsible. If you have any questions, take them to the IRS directly if you do not feel as if you are getting satisfaction from the tax preparer.