If you requested an extension to file your 2020 income taxes, the final due date is coming up in just a few weeks, on October 15th. That date sounded a long way off back in April or May when you extended. My, how time flies when you’re having fun…or when you are procrastinating.
Maybe you were putting off your tax filing because you had questions, or because your situation was more complicated than before. Is it too late to get help to file your taxes? No! Finding a tax preparer isn’t too hard. There are many to choose from. The challenge is finding someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, and dependable. Taxes are personal, so you also want someone with whom you feel comfortable confiding your financial details.
How do you find that elusive experienced and dependable confidant to prepare and file your income tax returns? Well, you can ask friends, hit the Internet, or head to the local tax preparation office. Ideally, you should interview two or three recommended tax preparers to feel confident that she or he is qualified to accurately prepare your income tax return, and that you feel comfortable interacting with her or him.
Use these three interview questions to get help to file your taxes:
- How Do You Keep Up with Tax Law Changes?
Tax laws are constantly changing. Think about all the recent updates due to COVID-19, on top of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that contained sweeping changes. Your tax preparer should keep up with all those changes, so you don’t have to. A qualified tax person will describe attending conferences, webinars, or other methods to stay current.
- What Experience and Credentials Do You Have?
Tax preparation is an unregulated industry where anyone can participate, so asking about years of experience, training and education is essential. Preparers with professional credentials, such as a CPA or Enrolled Agent (EA), are required to complete annual continuing education requirements and follow ethical and professional standards.
- How Do You Communicate with your Clients?
Does the tax preparer meet regularly with clients? Is she or he available to you if a tax-related question or issue comes up? Make sure you feel comfortable with the tax preparer’s style, manner, and process. If not, keep looking. You’ll be sharing a lot of personal information so you must be comfortable.
It’s not too late to get help to file your 2020 income tax returns. Even if you’re in a rush, make sure you ask the three interview questions necessary to get an experienced and dependable confidant to prepare and file your income tax returns. More tips and tools for getting tax help are on the IRS has a website at https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/choosing-a-tax-professional.