How do I pick the right tax preparer?

Walker Glantz: How to pick the right tax preparer

Today is the last major filing deadline of the year, and it’s a perfect time to reflect. How was your experience with your tax preparer?

Tax season can be a stressful time for individuals and businesses. With complex tax laws and regulations continually changing, it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable and reliable CPA by your side. Choosing the right tax preparer can make a significant difference in your financial well-being. Here are some tips and tricks to help you select the best tax professional for you, as well as how to recognize a bad apple.

What are the benefits of a good tax preparer?

Expertise and Knowledge

One of the primary reasons to choose a good tax preparer is their expertise and knowledge. Tax laws are intricate and subject to frequent changes.  A skilled CPA stays up-to-date with the latest tax regulations, helping you navigate through the complexities and optimize your tax return.

Minimize Errors and Audits

A reputable CPA can significantly reduce the chances of errors on your tax return. Errors can lead to delayed refunds or even audits.

Tax Planning and Strategy

A good CPA can also provide tax planning and advisory services. By working with you throughout the year, they can help you make informed financial decisions that will have a positive impact on your tax liability.

Maximizing Deductions and Credits

CPAs who are well-versed in tax laws are skilled at identifying deductions and credits that you may not be aware of. This is especially important for self-employed individuals and business owners who have various deductions available to them.

Assistance During Audits

In the unfortunate event of a tax audit, having a good CPA by your side is invaluable. They can help you gather the necessary documentation, communicate with tax authorities on your behalf, and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

How do I recognize a bad apple?

Avoiding a bad tax preparer is crucial to ensure your financial well-being and compliance with tax laws. Here are some tips to help you decide if someone is a reliable and competent tax preparer:

Verify Preparer Identification Number (PTIN)

All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) issued by the IRS. 

Research Their Reputation

Conduct online research to check for reviews and ratings of the tax preparer or their firm. Websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and online review platforms can provide insights into their reputation and client satisfaction.

Also, consider professionals who are Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Those who hold this license are bound by the ethical standards of the profession.

Avoid Promises of Large Refunds

Be cautious of tax preparers who promise exceptionally large refunds without a thorough review of your financial situation.

Red Flags

A tax preparer should not ask you to sign a blank tax return. Be leary of a preparer who fails to provide you with a copy of your completed return or will not return your personal documents.  These situations are a red flag for potential tax fraud or unethical practices.

Inquire About Fees Upfront

Understand the fee structure and pricing before hiring a tax preparer. Avoid those who charge fees based on a percentage of your refund as this can create a conflict of interest. Transparent and reasonable pricing is essential. There are low-cost tax prep options, but if your financial situation is complex, this is not a time to bargain shop.

Trust Your Instincts

Pay attention to your instincts when assessing a tax preparer. If something feels off or if you encounter resistance when seeking information or clarification, it may be a sign that you should consider other options. 

Choose wisely and pick confidently

The path to financial success includes a clear vision of your tax obligations. A seasoned CPA offers technical expertise and will partner with you to ethically minimize tax expenses. This brings peace of mind and helps you reach your financial goals. At Walker Glantz, we’re committed to helping small businesses and their founders achieve financial success.

It’s never too early to prepare for next year. Our team of accomplished professionals is ready to help. Contact us today to get started.