by Charlotte Wood
(last updated February 21, 2009)
If you are confused and unsure of what you should do when it comes to your taxes, you probably realize that you need help. The most common help that people seek is in the preparation of their tax returns. A tax preparer can be a good option for you to look into. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you go about your search.
First, you need to find someone qualified. I know this sounds obvious, but when you're dealing with your money, the government, and the relationship between your money and the government, you don't want to leave anything unsaid. Tax preparers are legally responsible for what they put on your tax return papers, so they want to be careful and you should be careful as well. Look into the preparer's credentials and history with the Better Business Bureau and IRS. A good tax preparer will ask for receipts and other paperwork so as to effectively file your taxes, so you need to look for that and give them the items they need. A good tax preparer asks for information and if they don't, you should have reason to feel a bit suspicious.
Keep in mind that anyone who prepares your taxes should come up with similar numbers that any other preparer would, so steer clear of those who claim they can get you more. Do also be aware of fraudulent tax preparers; they can mess things up for you big time and that's something you need to be aware of and looking out for.
When you do hire a tax preparer, look over everything they've done to make sure your information is correct and don't ever sign a blank return (that could lead to problems!) Also, you should always sign in pen and never in pencil. Protect yourself with caution! Make sure your paid preparer signs the return—it's the law and it makes him legally responsible for what's on the forms. Make sure you can easily contact your tax preparer; because tax preparers deal with your money, you want to be able to easily contact them in case of questions or money emergencies.
Choosing a tax preparer really isn't that hard; there are just a few things you need to do and keep in mind as you search. It's okay to be picky and don't be afraid of offending some people—it's your money and you want to make sure it's in the right hands! Good luck on your search!
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