Accountant Beware: How to Choose a Preparer Wisely

Your Guide to State, Local, Federal, Estate + International Taxation

Having trouble finding a good accountant? The IRS can help! The IRS has a directory online that has a list of over 666,000 credentialed tax professionals. Each preparer listed has a valid 2015 Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The information you can find regarding each professional includes name, addresses and contact information. The list of professionals includes attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents and any of those who have completed the IRS requirements for the voluntary Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP).

It is important to find a trusted tax professional because you are giving them and trusting them with your most personal information such as financial information, information about your children and social security numbers. Just because you are not filing your tax return personally does not mean you are not responsible for what is on it. It is also important to choose a professional that has the qualifications that meet your needs. Some things to look for in a good tax professional include:

  • They have a valid PTIN
  • Credentials – if they are a CPA check to see their license, diplomas, etc.
  • Fees are not based on a percentage of your refund
  • Make sure your refund is deposited into your account, not the preparer’s
  • E-file – safest & most secure
  • They are available to you when you need them
  • Listen to what they ask you for – a good professional will ask you for records and will ask appropriate questions
  • Never sign a blank return & always review it first

The IRS has a posted video on YouTube that you can view to learn how to choose a tax preparer wisely. If you come across a professional that needs to be reported, you can always report abuse to the IRS with Form 14157.