Last week, I took an IRS exam to earn the Enrolled Agent (EA) credential. Being an EA will allow me to represent clients or interact on their behalf with the IRS. That’s on top of preparing income tax returns for businesses, individuals, estates, and nonprofit information returns.
The EA or other tax credential is one thing to look for to find a qualified tax preparer. Clients need to know that a knowledgeable tax professional is helping them follow the tax laws and take allowable deductions.
So what other experience or background should tax payers look for when “shopping” for a tax preparer? Other than getting referrals from colleagues, family and friends, taxpayers should ask prospective tax preparers these three questions:
- How Do You Keep Up with Changing Tax Laws?
Tax laws are constantly changing so it’s important to work with a tax professional who keeps up, so you don’t have to. Your tax preparer should describe attending conferences, webinars, or other methods she or he uses to stay current.
- What are Your Experience and Credentials?
Tax preparation is an unregulated industry where anyone can participate. Get examples of tax situations, client types, and complex issues where the tax preparer has experience. Her or his answers will indicate if she or he will be able to address your needs.
- How Do You Communicate with your Clients?
Does the tax preparer you are interviewing meet regularly with clients? Are meetings in person? Is the person available for you if a tax-related question or issue comes up? Make sure you feel comfortable with the tax professional’s style, manner and process.
It’s important to have a qualified tax preparer that is prepared to meet your needs. Feeling confident and comfortable with the answers to these three questions is a good sign that your taxes will be prepared accurately and consider allowable deductions.