Seek tax preparers who guarantee their work, complete ongoing training
Although the IRS announced new regulations for tax professionals, these rules will not take effect until 2011. This year, the more than 80 percent of Americans using a tax preparer to complete their returns will want to ensure they’re working with a reputable tax preparer.
H&R Block gives six tips to help taxpayers find a qualified tax professional that’s right for them:
1. Ask about training. Ask how many continuing education hours the preparer receives each year. Do they have the tax knowledge to accurately represent your interests? Many Americans don’t realize up-to-date training is important when selecting a tax professional.
“Taxpayers can’t afford to leave money on the table in this difficult economy,” said Corey Sutton Sr., district manager for H&R Block. “Working with a credible tax professional who has up-to-date training on the latest tax law changes, will help Americans claim all the credits and deductions they’re entitled.”
2. Know their area(s) of expertise. A sick patient wouldn’t see an orthopedic doctor for a head cold and a small business owner shouldn’t use a tax preparer who’s not an expert on the Schedule C. The H&R Block Tax Professional Finder can help taxpayers find a preparer whose expertise matches their individual needs.
“When it comes to taxes, knowledge can translate into dollars saved,” Sutton said. “If a tax preparer also can sell you a car or rent you furniture, ask if they have the proper training and expertise to interpret a complicated tax code and apply it to your specific situation.”
3. Protect sensitive data. Tax professionals review earnings statements, investment records, Social Security Numbers and other private information. Make sure you trust your tax preparer to review and protect your confidential data.
4. Look for a guarantee. Understand what happens if the tax preparer makes an error on your return. Will they pay the resulting penalties and interest or will you be left footing the bill? In the event of a tax audit, will they explain the notice and help you navigate the process or are you on you own? Seek a reputable tax preparer who guarantees their work.
5. Understand availability. While taxes are typically prepared January through April, the IRS corresponds with taxpayers throughout the year. So, it’s important to select a tax preparer that’s available year-round.
6. Only claim what’s legal. Avoid tax preparers who say they can obtain larger-than-average tax refunds. Refund estimations should be based on deductions and credits taxpayers are legally permitted to claim. Report tax preparers who claim inflated or false deductions to the IRS.
Regardless of who prepares your taxes, the taxpayer is legally responsible for the information on the return. A little research into the best tax professional now can prevent significant financial and legal harm later. For more information about tax season 2010, visit www.hrblock.com.