Once again, the time has come to get our taxes done. Most of us should have all of your W-2’s and 1099’s and be ready to go. Tax season is hectic for everyone and most people try to make things less hectic by hiring a tax preparer. Picking your tax preparer is one of the most important things you will do. The person you choose will play an important role in your life.
There are a few things you might want to consider before you allow someone to prepare your taxes for you. You should take some time to really evaluate who you are going to pay to prepare your taxes. You have to remember that your tax preparer is going to have access to your social security number and your financial information. Trusting someone with this task is more important than some people make it out to be.
The first thing you should consider is the education level of your tax preparer. Most of the time, the reason we pay someone to do our taxes is because we don’t have the education to rally comprehend the complicated tax code. If you go to one of the larger tax companies, you may end up having someone prepare your taxes and they don’t have a real understanding of the tax law. I think most people would be surprised to find out that most of the people that work at those companies, only take a few “classes” and they do not go into any great detail about the tax code. They are pretty much just learning how to use the software and the programs that company offers.
Another thing you should consider is the experience level of your tax preparer. This is especially important if the person doesn’t have at least a Bachelor’s in Accounting. You wouldn’t want to go to someone who has never really done taxes before and don’t have any formal education. There are a lot of people who say they can prepare your taxes for you, when really the only thing they have ever done is open up one of those boxes you can get tax software in.
You might want to also check to see what licenses and credentials a person has before you allow them to prepare your taxes. Keep in mind that usually only CPA’s, licensed attorneys, and Enrolled Agents are recognized by the IRS to represent you. You should certainly do some research into these certifications as well. For the CPA’s and attorneys, you can check with the state while the IRS regulates Enrolled Agents.
The most important thing to some that you should consider when picking your tax preparer is the price they are charging. The sad fact is that most of the tax companies are grossly overcharging for their services. You can go in with just W2’s and end up paying over $100. There is no reason to waste your money like that. I would recommend doing price comparisons and determine which tax preparer is going to give you the best deal. Please be careful though, you do get what you pay for sometimes. Unless it’s a family member or friend, if someone tells you they will prepare your taxes for $15, be very cautious.
Picking your tax preparer shouldn’t be a quick process. The person you choose should be a person that you will have a relationship with. You are giving them access to information you wouldn’t want just anyone to know and you’re paying them for it. You wouldn’t want to hand over your hard earned money and financial documents to just anyone. I urge you to take some time and really do a thorough check on whom you will pick to be your tax preparer. You won’t be sorry.