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4 Tips when selecting a tax professional

Most tax documents are required to be sent by January 31st of each year. As you start to compile your tax documents, consider these tips before hiring a tax preparer.

A google search will turn up the names of all those who can prepare taxes in your area. What can you do next to narrow down the list? In our December 9, 2015 post, we covered how to check the credentials of a tax preparer. In this post, we want to cover several other considerations.

Changing agency representation rules

The first, ties in with qualifications. Is the person you are considering qualified to represent you in front of the Internal Revenue Service? New rules generally narrow this right to attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents.

Tax preparers that do not have the proper qualifications are limited to preparing returns. This could become an issue if the IRS has a question or initiates an audit of your return. Looping in another professional later can cause delays and extra costs.

Checking reviews

Check Yelp or Google+ reviews to learn from the experience of others. Find out whether the preparer has ever been subject to a disciplinary action with the California Board of Accountancy or state bar association. IRS.gov provides information about the status of enrolled agents.

Paying Fees

Ask how much it will cost to prepare your return. This one is simple, yet important. A fee tied to the amount of your refund or a claim of higher refunds than competitors should trigger red flags.

E-filing

Lastly, ask about e-filing options. This option often results in a faster refund.

The IRS started accepting e-filed returns on January 19 of this year. The agency has processed more than 1.5 billion e-filed returns as the percentage of e-filed returns continues to increase.

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