Tips for how to find a tax preparer
March 5, 2012 – TaxTalk Blog
You know how we catch up with some of our friends once a year via holiday cards? Well, some of us in the tax business have friends we hear from once a year, too – around tax time. Questions run the gamut from “Can I claim depreciation on my dog?” to “When do I have to file?” to “Arghhh! Where can I get help?”
If you are feeling a little adventurous, you might try Indiana’s free online filing program. This year Indiana has joined the Freefile Alliance, which allows qualified individuals to complete and electronically file both their federal and state taxes for free. Check it out to see if this option is for you.
But, you may be more comfortable having a professional tax preparer figure and file your taxes. If so, here are some things to look for when making your decision:
- Find out what the service fees are before your return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
- Only use a tax professional who provides you a copy of your tax return to keep for your records.
- Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank tax form.
- Choose a tax preparer that will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed.
- Ask questions. Get referrals from family and friends. Check with the Better Business Bureau. See if the tax preparer belongs to professional organizations.
- Before you sign your tax return, or authorize it to be filed electronically, review the return and ask questions.
- A couple of good sources of professionals are the Indiana CPA Society (www.incpas.org) and the Indiana Society of Enrolled Agents (www.inea.biz).
- The IRS offers a search feature on its website to help you find an approved preparer/e-file provider. Since this is a federal/state joint program, those approved by the IRS are also approved to e-file Indiana returns. Search for Approved e-file Providers.
Deciding how to get your taxes prepared and filed is more than half the battle. And, you’ve got until April 17 this year to get it done. Just don’t put off filing too long. Computers are awfully busy the last week of tax filing, and lines get longer that time of year, too.
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