Taxpayers who have not yet filed their 2021 tax return may file electronically when they are ready rather than wait until the October 17, 2022, extension deadline. If they are considering hiring a tax preparer, it’s important to choose wisely. Taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their tax return, no matter who prepares it for them or when it’s filed.
There are different kinds of tax return preparers, and a taxpayer’s needs will determine which kind of preparer is best for them.
Here are some things taxpayers should do when choosing a tax return preparer
• Check the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers. This searchable and sortable public directory helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications.
• Check the preparer’s history with the Better Business Bureau. Taxpayers should check for any disciplinary actions for credentialed tax return preparers. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association. For enrolled agents, verify the agent’s status on IRS.gov.
• Ask about fees. Taxpayers should avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of the refund into their own financial accounts. They should be wary of tax return preparers who claim they can get larger refunds than their competitors.
• Ask if the preparer plans to use IRS e-file. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The IRS issues most refunds in fewer than 21 days for taxpayers who file electronically and choose direct deposit.
• Make sure the preparer is available. Taxpayers should consider whether the tax return preparer will be around after the filing deadline has passed. Taxpayers should do this because they might need the preparer to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return. Avoid fly-by-night preparers.
• Ensure the preparer signs and includes their preparer tax identification number. All aid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare tax returns. Preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
• Understand the preparer’s credentials. Enrolled agents, CPAs, and attorneys have unlimited practice rights and can represent taxpayers on any tax matter before the IRS. Tax return preparers who participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program have limited practice rights and may only represent taxpayers whose returns they prepared and signed, and only for exams and for customer service and Taxpayer Advocate Service inquiries.