Know your tax preparer

| 22 Feb 2012 | 07:53

    New York — If you’re paying someone to do your tax return, choose a tax preparer wisely. You are responsible for what’s on your tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. So, it’s important to find a qualified tax professional. The IRS offers the following tips for taxpayers contemplating using a tax preparer. Find out what the service fees are before the return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers. Only use a tax professional that signs your tax return and provides you with a copy of the completed tax return for your records. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form. Choose a tax preparer that will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed. Ask questions. Do you know anyone who has used the tax professional? Were they satisfied with the service they received? Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association for attorneys. Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics. Determine if the preparer’s credentials meet your needs. Does your state have licensing or registration requirements for paid preparers? Is he or she an enrolled agent, certified public accountant, public accountant or attorney? If so, the preparer can represent taxpayers before the IRS on all matters - including audits, collections, and appeals. Other return preparers can represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return signed as a preparer. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. You can report suspected tax fraud and abusive tax preparers to the IRS on Form 3949-A, Information Referral or by sending a letter to Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. Form 3949-A is available on