The chill of fall is in the air and it’s time to buy Halloween candy. Before you know it, 2022 will be over and the April tax filing deadline will be looming. The way time is flying, it’s not too early to look for a tax preparer for the next filing season, assuming that you don’t have a tax pro already. There are many tax professionals to choose from, but it’s a challenge to make sure you find someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, and dependable. You also want someone with whom you feel comfortable confiding your financial details.
So, how do you find a tax preparer for next filing season? You can ask friends, hit the Internet, or head to the local tax preparation office. Plan to interview two or three recommended tax preparers, starting with these four questions:
- How Do You Keep Up with Tax Law Changes?
Tax laws are constantly changing. We saw it a few years ago with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and more recently with the COVID relief laws. It’s important to work with a tax preparer who keeps up with all those changes, so you don’t have to. A qualified tax preparer 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 are 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.
- Are You Available After the Tax Deadline?
Make sure the preparer is available. Some tax preparers only work on a seasonal basis. Taxpayers should consider whether the tax return preparer will be around after the filing deadline has passed. Taxpayers should do this because they might need the preparer to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return.
If you feel the chill in the fall air, it’s just a few months until next tax filing season. Need help finding a tax preparer to help you out? The IRS has a website for you with tips and tools – https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/choosing-a-tax-professional and a directory of federal tax return preparers with credentials and specified qualifications – https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.