Choosing a Paid Tax Preparer - Be an Informed Consumer

The IRS funds organizations to provide free tax preparation to low income families. To find a free tax preparation site near you, call the IRS at 800-906-9887 or look at the IRS list of free tax preparers.

If you choose to pay someone to do your taxes, here are some helpful tips to help you choose a competent and qualified preparer.

Am I Being Promised a Larger Refund?

Your refund should be the same no matter who does your taxes. Be cautious of preparers who promise you a larger refund than another preparer. Ask the preparer to explain the reason for the larger refund. Additionally, avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of your refund.

Is My Refund Going to the Preparer?

If you have a refund due, always make sure the refund is coming to you by mail or to your bank account. A reputable preparer will not and should not deposit your refund into his/her own bank account.

Did the Preparer Ask Me For Records and Receipts?

A reputable preparer will ask you many questions to determine your income, expenses, and whether you qualify for deductions and credits. If you have business expenses, your tax preparer should ask you for records and receipts of those expenses. If the IRS audits your tax return, you must be able to prove your expenses. Make sure you keep your original records and receipts.

Did I Review My Return Before Signing, Ask Questions, and Receive a Copy?

It is your responsibility to make sure your tax return is accurate and correct before you sign it. You have a right to ask questions about any item on your return. Also, avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank tax return. You cannot verify the information on a blank tax return.

Did the Preparer Sign and Include His/Her PTIN?

The IRS requires that all paid tax return preparers sign the return and to have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). A reputable preparer will include his/her name, address, signature, and PTIN on your tax return.

Is the Preparer Available After the End of the Tax Season?

Ask your preparer if he/she will be available after the end of the filing season in case you receive a letter from the IRS about your return. A reputable preparer will be available to answer your call and questions.