What To Look For In A Good Tax Professional
Filing taxes isn’t worth the stress. It takes a lot of your time, and you often wind up needing to study the latest tax updates that seem to get more confusing each year. It’s why using a tax professional to file your tax return can be worth your money.
Finding the right tax professional can make a substantial difference when filing your taxes. But who do you choose? How do you know you’re hiring the individual with the specific qualifications for your tax professional? And with all the different licenses and titles tax professionals can have, what do they mean for you? If you find yourself asking questions like these, this blog is for you.
What’s the difference between a CPA, an enrolled agent, and a tax attorney?
There are various types of tax return preparers, with different titles granting them different responsibilities. In fact, anyone can earn income as a tax return preparer if they have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). However, if you’re looking for someone to file your taxes, understanding their titles and how their industry experience can help you is necessary. Just because anyone can do the job doesn’t mean they’re the right fit.
To be brief, a CPA, or certified public accountant, is an accounting expert. To earn their license requires extensive education, and they need to pass a comprehensive exam. An enrolled agent, or EA, is a tax practitioner licensed by the federal government. While a CPA may specialize in one of accounting’s broad niches, an EA specializes in taxes. As the name implies, a tax attorney is an individual who specializes in tax law and can represent clients in court.
What should I look for in a good tax professional?
Now that you understand the differences between some tax experts, let’s get down to business. When you opt to use a tax professional, it’s because you want to ensure you have someone with the right knowledge and experience to get the job done right. After all, filing a tax return yourself takes hours and unlike the professionals, it’s not your job to stay up to date with and comprehend the latest tax updates.
For that reason, we’ve outlined some tips to keep in mind when you’re looking for a tax professional to file your taxes.
1. Assess your needs. Before you call an accountant near you, you should understand what you want them to do for you. Going into a meeting with a tax professional unprepared will likely result in an outcome you don’t want. You’re leaving too much to chance, and you may miss out on potential tax breaks without taking note of your tax situation.
Understanding your tax needs may also help you identify the right tax professional for you. Many accountants have a specialization in one tax field or another. If you have complex investments that impact your taxes, you’re going to want to find a professional with enough experience in that area. If you run a small business, that same investment specialist may not be able to help you as well as someone who specializes in your needs would. For preparing and filing your personal taxes, consider finding a tax professional who specializes in individual income tax returns.
Sometimes, tax professionals list their specialties on their website to let you know if they’re the right fit for you. Other times, you should call the firm to see if they can help you.
2. Verify their identification. Whether the tax professional you’re interested in hiring is a CPA or EA, they need to have a PTIN on file with the IRS. To verify that a tax professional is registered with a PTIN, simply search the IRS Return Preparer Office Directory.
Enrolled agents can also be searched through the IRS’ databank. For CPAs, they’re licensed in the state they practice in; you can search their records with your state's board of accountancy. Most states offer databases that allow you to search by name and find important information on a CPA's license status as well as disciplinary actions.
If their tax preparation practice is on Google or Yelp, it’s always good to scan the reviews. Often that’s where you can get a general perspective from past clients.
3. Find out their experience.
At this point, you should probe through their website to understand how long they have been preparing taxes and in what fields. That information is important in deciding whether they’re the right person to file your tax return. You can also find out if they have experience filing returns electronically, which is a service required by the IRS if they handle more than 11 returns per year.
If you want to know more about their experience, it’s always best to email or call them.
How can Taxfyle help?
That’s overwhelming, but you don’t need to worry. We understand that sometimes making the time to find the right tax professional doesn’t always work out. But that doesn’t mean you should rush through your choices or file your tax return yourself. Taxfyle can find the right Tax Professional for you. When you submit a job, it will be picked up by one of our Pros, who is qualified to prepare and file your return based on the information you provide.
We have a network of thousands of CPAs and EAs, each uniquely qualified to meet an array of tax needs. We take time to ensure their licenses are up to date and have the necessary experience to file your tax return. It takes the hard part out of your hands.
This tax season, why worry about the stress? With Taxfyle, you’ll have the help you need to file your tax return.