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How do I choose a tax preparer?

If you need assistance in filing your taxes this year, consider getting a tax preparer.

tax sign on top of money

But how do you pick one?


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Things to consider when looking for a tax preparer

When hiring a tax preparer, ask about their credentials. The preparer has access to your personal information like Social Security number, bank accounts, marital status, and if you have kids. You want to be sure you pick someone you trust. Read more about it here.

There are seven pointers to help you choose the best tax preparer for you:

  1. Check for a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
    • Anyone who prepares or assists in tax preparation for federal tax returns has a PTIN. This is an IRS requirement. Volunteer preparers do not require a PTIN. If it is not a volunteer, make sure that their PTIN is on your tax return.
  2. Check for CPA
    • Getting a PTIN is fairly simple, so be sure to hire someone with credentials. CPA stands for certified public accountant.
    • One way to find a tax advisor is to look through the IRS directory. Only preparers with PTINs are included on the IRS.
  3. Check professional organizations
    • National Tax Association of Tax Professionals, National Association of Enrolled Agents, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Academy of Attorney CPAs are professional organizations that have tax preparers.
  4. Compare tax advisor fees
    • In 2020, the average fee for preparing a mon-itemized Form 1040 was $220 and higher for an itemized claim. Tax preparers usually charge a set fee with additional costs based on complexity.
    • If a tax advisor bases fees based on the size of your refund or claims, that is a red flag.
  5. Hire a tax advisor who e-file
    • If a preparer does more than ten returns, they are required by the IRS to e-file.
  6. Confirm your preparer signs your returns
    • Paid preparers must sign the return and provide their PTIN according to the law. Never sign a blank tax return.
  7. Make sure you trust your tax advisor
    • The best tax advisors will take the time to help you and answer questions.


IRS: Some Americans getting $448 increase to their tax refund

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