Tis the season for family, festivities, and… tax planning?
Generally speaking, no one wants to think about paying taxes during this most wonderful time of the year, but it’s an ideal time to begin the process of hiring a tax professional. If you’re in the market for a professional to help you put together your 2021 return, you’re in luck.
The IRS recommends five important actions to take during the vetting process, detailed below. Our team of tax pros at Bingman Associates is in full agreement with these five steps, and we want you to try them out this coming year—even if you try them out on us!
1. Get your documents in order.
No matter who prepares your taxes, the IRS will hold you responsible for the information included on your return. Get your information organized so that you have everything ready for the initial conversation.
2. Do your research.
Make sure you’re hiring a legitimate professional. The IRS has a database where you can locate enrolled agents, CPAs, and attorneys who hold professional credentials currently recognized by the IRS. You can also check the status of an enrolled agent with the IRS by using the information found here. Finally, check with the Better Business Bureau to verify the professional’s reputation.
3. Ask lots of questions.
- Is the professional planning to base their fee on a percentage of the refund or offering to deposit all or part of your refund into their financial account? If they answer yes, move on. This is not how legitimate tax professionals should operate.
- Does the professional claim they can get you a larger refund than others? Don’t buy it. The facts and calculations for your return should be the same across the board. Any professional should be able to input your data and come up with a similar refund amount, unless they are willing to be dishonest. You don’t want a dishonest tax professional, no matter how appealing a larger refund might sound. During an audit, you’d be the one suffering the consequences if your tax professional misrepresented your data.
- Be sure to ask the tax professional if they plan to e-file your return.
4. Don’t rush your decision.
You’ll want to start this process early. Trust me, you don’t want to feel pressure of choosing a professional at the last minute. You’ll also want to be sure that the professional is available for questions now and will be there for you in the future. There may come a time that you’ll need them to answer questions about your return, and you want to find a professional who will show up when you need them.
5. Double check their credentials.
Remember that only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents can represent you in front of the IRS in tax matters. Other tax return professionals who participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program will have limited practice rights to represent you during any audit of a return they prepared.
If you’re still not sure what to look for in a great tax professional, contact our office today!