Choosing a Tax Professional – Tips from the IRS
If you pay someone to prepare your tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that
preparer wisely. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their tax return even if
it is prepared by someone else. So, it is important to choose carefully when hiring an
individual or firm to prepare your return. Most return preparers are professional,
honest and provide excellent service to their clients.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when someone else prepares your return:
• Check the person's qualifications. Ask if the preparer is affiliated with a
professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and
resources and holds them to a code of ethics. New regulations effective in 2011 require
all paid tax return preparers including attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents to have a
Preparer Tax Identification Number.
• Check the preparer's history. Check to see if the preparer has a questionable
history with the Better Business Bureau and check for any disciplinary actions and
licensure status through the state boards of accountancy for certified public
accountants; the state bar associations for attorneys; and the IRS Office of
Professional Responsibility for enrolled agents.
• Find out about their service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a
percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other
• Make sure the tax preparer is accessible. Make sure you will be able to contact
the tax preparer after the return has been filed, even after the April due date, in case
• Provide all records and receipts needed to prepare your return. Most reputable
preparers will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you multiple
questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses,
deductions and other items.
• Never sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax
• Review the entire return before signing it. Before you sign your tax return, review
it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with
the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
• Make sure the preparer signs the form and includes their PTIN. A paid preparer
must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. Although the preparer
signs the return, you are responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return.
The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.