How to choose the right tax agent

How to choose the right tax agent

You can’t hide. Every year, if you work and earn a living, you must prepare and file a tax return for the IRS. Also, depending on your state of residence, you prepare and file a state tax return. Just imagine… If HR Block or Liberty Tax didn’t exist, who would you turn to to prepare and file your tax return? Moreover, how do you choose the right tax agent? In the tax preparation industry, you often think about:

  • Is the taxman a crook and out to rip me off?
  • How do I know if they know what they’re doing?
  • Will they disappear after tax season and leave me out in the cold?

In this article you will find 3 solid and practical tips to help you choose the right tax agent. Use these 3 tips to reduce your stress and fear. Walk away confident that your choice is not only in your best interest, but will also help you legally lower your tax bill.

1. Does he or she have a current PTIN?
A PTIN, or “Professional Taxpayer Identification Number,” is a number the IRS assigns each year to those who charge money to pay taxes. This number is important because you need to be approved by the IRS each year to get one. This annual approval process ensures that preparers have no problems with the IRS. You can check the current status of someone’s PTIN by going to the IRS website and searching for “PTIN” in the search box.

2. Ask about their level of tax experience
This tip is really important. It’s one thing to have an up-to-date PTIN, but what good is it if you don’t know what you’re doing? Ask about previous experience with clients, work history, or even dealing with the IRS. At a minimum, you want to work with someone who has either completed several tax seasons at one of the retail tax franchises, such as HR Block or Liberty Tax or has received certain certifications or credentials based on years of experience or passing an exam. Another way to check for tax experience is to ask about specific tax issues you are interested in or have had trouble with in the past. They should give you a short and specific answer with relevant tax references.

3. What type of practice does he or she have?
Finally, please don’t ignore this advice. Ask about the type of tax practice he or she manages. It’s good to work with people who don’t have an office or an apartment dedicated solely to practice. In today’s market, technology has not only changed how tax preparers work, but also where. Most preparation services are done virtually. This does not excuse the lack of order, professionalism and correctness of the tax return. Regardless of where and how the preparer works, you should have peace of mind when it comes to completing the return on time and correctly at a reasonable cost; the level of customer service received with an expectation of fast tracking; and the ability to contact them when needed during and after tax season.

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