7 questions to ask before hiring a tax preparer

Whether you think you’ll owe taxes or expect a fat refund, hiring a qualified tax preparer can help ensure that your income taxes are properly prepared by an expert.

Keep in mind, however, that not all tax preparers are equal in skill, training, qualifications and representation capabilities if you run into trouble with the IRS over your taxes.

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Do you have a Preparer Tax Identification Number?

If the tax preparer you’re considering hiring has a PTIN, great. If they don’t, continue searching for a preparer who meets this requirement.

What are your credentials?

There are important differences among tax professionals when it comes to “representation rights” – the tax preparer’s ability to represent their clients.

Are you a member of a professional association?

Membership in a professional association typically requires the member to adhere to standards of practice and a code of ethics.

Do you meet state requirements?

Search online for your state’s requirements for tax preparers and make sure any tax preparer you hire meets all state licensing, registration and continuing education requirements.

Do you pursue continuing education?

Ask a potential tax preparer what kinds of continuing education courses he or she completes each year so you can gauge their skill and qualifications.