Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated February 21, 2009)
Filing tax returns are time consuming and take a special knack for numbers and let's face it: not all people have time, numbers competency, or both. In this case, it would be prudent to seek tax help. While it may cost you a bit extra, sometimes hiring a professional is the way to go, plus it spares you the irritation often accompanying tax filing. Before you go out and pay someone to file your taxes however, you need to verify a few things.
One of the first things you'll need to check is how your professional will be compensated. Is it hourly (most likely), by the job, or something else? And then how much does this person charge? Would it be worth it to you to pay a lot for a small return or would you fare better seeking out someone else? Go in knowing that contingency fees (or fees based on a percentage of your tax return) are not allowed and also realize that anyone who says they can get you a higher return than other preparers because in reality, any tax preparer should crank out basically the same numbers.
Check out the professional's credentials and qualifications. You also need to make sure that you understand what they mean. Part of what a preparer agrees to is to sign the return and prepare it correctly; the professional you hire is legally responsible for your return, but you still need to be careful with who you choose and make sure you understand what exactly you can do. Make sure that the tax preparer is on good terms with the state and IRS so you don't hire a fake to file your taxes.
Just like with everything important regarding your money, don't hire anyone without researching other options. Do your homework and make sure you're really hiring the best person you can. This is your money and you don't want to take too many risks. Finding tax help isn't hard, but you do need to be careful and picky when it comes to choosing a tax preparer. It's your money so you deserve the best you can find!
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