Always look for someone with experience rather than accolades. When looking for tax professionals, ensure they have field experience. Several types of tax professionals offer a comprehensive service to a specific area. Some are more experienced in handling potential savings and assisting in the event of an audit. Some professionals only offer seasonal services; others provide year-round guidance and support.
If you are looking for a tax professional that will fit you, here are some guides and tips:
- Recognize your needs
Before getting a tax professional, the first thing to do is to identify what services you need before tax filing. Some people have basic tax returns; others may require a preparer who can handle complex situations. Chain tax preparation companies often have low-cost services that meet the needs of taxpayers with simple returns. CPA can be hired for those who want personalized advice or complex finances; however, there is no guarantee that someone is well-suited to manage your taxes, as they have their specialization.
- Consult your network for recommendations
Once you understand the scope of service required, it’s time to begin searching. The best way to start is by tapping into your network. An excellent place to look for qualified preparers is on your state’s CPA association website. A web search may be your next best option if your network doesn’t have any suitable leads.
- Validate credentials
It’s no guarantee that a preparer is good at their job or offers the services you need. Chains such as Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax may easily handle simple tax returns. For more complex returns, look for an enrolled agent, CPA, or tax attorney.
- Request a job interview
If you’re looking for a tax professional, ask for a five- to 10-minute phone call at least.
- Examine prices
The average fee charged by firms for a Form 1040 without itemization was $220 in 2020-2021. With itemization, the average cost rose to $323. Some preparers may charge an hourly rate, but it’s also common for them to have base fees.
- Look for warning signs
Tax preparer red flags include refusal to sign a return and a temporary office or website. Legitimate tax preparers will charge an hourly or flat fee for their work. Assessing a charge based on the size of your refund is considered a violation of professional ethics. Lastly, always trust your intuition.