Is Your Tax Preparer Going to Summer School?

This summer, people are heading to the beach or the mountains for a much-needed break. This July and August, approximately 11,000 tax professionals across the country will take a break, too, from preparing taxes. They’re going to Summer School, aka the annual IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. The IRS puts on the Tax Forum every summer to help tax pros keep up with tax rule changes and federal tax issues affecting their clients.

Why does this matter to you? Because you’d rather be at the beach instead of reading up on tax rules changes. You are responsible for all of the information on your income tax return, no matter who prepared it. Hiring a tax preparer who keeps up with all the tax rules lets you relax at the beach, soaking up the rays.

So, how do you find a qualified tax professional? It’s a good idea to get referrals and interview two or three preparers to feel confident that she or he is qualified and that you feel comfortable interacting with her or him. Also, you can feel confident that your tax return is prepared by a qualified tax preparer who keeps up with all the tax rule changes by following these four tips:

  1. Ask about professional credentials, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or an Enrolled Agent (EA). Credentialed return preparers are required to fulfill annual continuing education. The IRS maintains a Directory of Federal Return Preparers with their credentials and qualifications at https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.
  2. Verify that the preparer has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and enters it on your return that is electronically filed with the IRS. Tax preparers who charge a fee are required to have a PTIN and to file returns electronically or submit a reason for paper filing with the return.
  3. Inquire about the tax preparer’s education and training, and how she or he keeps up with tax law changes and IRS processes. Tax pros who are not a CPA or EA should still get annual tax updates to keep up their knowledge. 
  4. Ask about service fees and get a cost estimate in writing. Avoid tax preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund, or who want their fee paid by direct deposit from your refund. These are both unethical practices prohibited by IRS regulations.

Getting dependable tax services starts with selecting a qualified tax preparer who keeps up with tax rule changes and issues. Whether that person went to Summer School, aka the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum, or not, following these four tips will help you to get qualified tax help. 

Want to relax while you’re at the beach knowing that your tax pro is keeping up with tax rule changes? The IRS has help for you to find a tax preparer who might have gone to this year’s IRS Nationwide Tax Forum at https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/choosing-a-tax-professional.