4 tips for choosing who prepares your 2017 tax returns

Personal Finance


If you pay someone to prepare your return, the person is required by law to have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). However, they all have differing levels of education, training and professional credentials.

You can search for a preparer’s credentials and select qualifications at the IRS directory. If the person is an enrolled agent, which is an IRS-issued professional designation, you can verify their status at the IRS website. You also can take a look at a searchable IRS list of prepares who have faced censures, suspensions and the like.

Some credentialed tax preparers’ disciplinary history and license status can be checked at the state level. For certified public accountants, check with your state’s public accountancy board. If you are considering hiring a tax attorney, consult your local bar association for more information about the person.

The American Institute of CPAs offers an online list of links to state boards of public accountancy.

Findlaw.com has a list of state and local bar assocations with links to those online.

You also can check the Better Business Bureau to see if there are complaints against the person or firm you are considering.

Be aware that although a noncredentialed preparer can have a PTIN, the person might be authorized only to prepare and file your return, not to represent you before the IRS if issues arise.



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