If you pay someone to prepare your taxes, choose that preparer wisely because in the long run the Taxpayer (you) are held responsible for what is reported on the tax return, regardless if it was prepared by someone else.
Most preparers are professional, work with integrity, and provide excellent service to their clients.
The following are a few tips on what to expect when someone else prepares your return
Paid preparers are required by law to sign the return and fill in the preparer areas of the form.
The preparer should also provide their indentifying number (PTIN or SSN) on the return.
The preparer must provide a copy of the return to you for your records.
Review! Review! The completed return to ensure all tax information, your name, address, and social security number(s) are correct. Make sure none of these fields are left blank.
Also review and ensure you understand the entries and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return BEFORE you sign it.
Never sign a blank return, and never sign in pencil.
If you have provided specific authorization in a power of attorney filed with the IRS, you may have copies of notices or refund checks mailed to your preparer or representatives; but only you can sign and cash your refund checks.
A Third Party Authorization Check box on Form 1040 allows you to designate your Paid Preparer to speak to the IRS concerning how your return was prepared, payment and refund issues and mathematical errors.
What to avoid when deciding on a Paid Tax Preparer:
Unqualified tax preparers because they may overlook legitimate deductions or credits that could cause you to pay more than you need to. They may also make costly mistakes causing you to incur assessed deficiencies, penalties, and interest.
Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
Preparers who guarantee results and who base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund. A practitioner MAY NOT charge a contingent fee (percentage of refund) for preparing an original tax return
Preparers that rush and do not ask questions – understand that the most reputable preparers will request to see your receipts and will ask multiple questions to determine your qualifications for expenses, deductions, and other items. The purpose is to have your best interest in mind, to help you avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes that could result from an IRS examination
The expectation of every taxpayer
During busy season, tax preparers tend to be busy working on returns, and meeting with clients, despite this your preparer should be approachable for you to ask questions and feel comfortable about your tax experience.