8 Tips to Find the Best Tax Preparer Near You

Senior man completing USA tax form 1040 for 2017 with charts and calculations on wooden desk

As if taxes weren’t already confusing and stressful enough, the new tax laws have left millions of Americans scratching their heads.

Visits to the IRS’s website even increased by 11 percent this year as folks did their best to navigate the new rules.

If you were part of this group and still couldn’t figure out your taxes, you might want to consider hiring a professional for your future tax preparation needs.

There are a lot of benefits that come with having a professional on your side — you just need to make sure you hire the right tax preparer.

Read on to learn eight tips that will help you find a great tax preparer to get your taxes in order.

Why Hire a Tax Preparer?

If you’re still on the fence about hiring a professional tax preparer, keep in mind all the benefits they have to offer you. Here are some of the greatest perks that can result from hiring a tax preparer:

  • Less money paid to the IRS
  • Less time spent worrying about filing
  • Reduced stress
  • Access to experienced professionals
  • Less worry about making mistakes
  • Review and amend previous returns for extra savings
  • Deduct the cost of tax preparation fees
  • Find deductions and credits you wouldn’t have found on your own

A good tax preparer can also help you plan for the future. For example, they can teach you the importance of setting aside money from your side gig so you’re prepared to pay taxes.

How to Find the Best Tax Preparer

Okay, you can see that there are benefits to paying someone to prepare your taxes for you. How can you know you’re working with a trustworthy individual who knows how to help you save the greatest amount of money, though?

Here are some tips to help you in your search for the best tax preparer:

1. Consider Their Credentials

The first thing you ought to consider when hiring a tax preparer is their credentials. What qualifies them to prepare your taxes?

Ideally, they’ll be a Certified Public Accountant (also known as a CPA).

They should also have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (known as a PTIN). Anyone who prepares taxes for compensation should have a PTIN — it’s required by the IRS.

If someone is offering to help with your taxes and they don’t have these basic credentials, run the other way.

2. Compare Fees

Many people shy away from hiring a tax preparer because they don’t want to pay any extra fees. While this can be irritating, it’s worth it if the tax preparer you hire helps you save money and pay less to the IRS, right?

You’ll have to pay something in exchange for your tax preparer’s services, but that doesn’t mean you need to fork over all your hard-earned money.

Before you decide on a particular tax preparer, compare their fees to other preparers in your area to see who offers the best rates.

3. Make Sure They Offer E-Filing

The IRS requires any tax preparer who prepares returns for more than 10 clients to e-file.

If the tax preparer you’re considering doesn’t offer this service, they either have less than 10 clients (which can indicate a lack of experience or poor service) or don’t care about following IRS regulations.

Neither one of these is a great sign for you.

4. Ask About Audit Protection

Look for a tax preparer who offers audit protection. That way, you’ll have someone to represent you should you get audited by the IRS.

The chances of you actually being audited are relatively slim. Knowing that you’ll have someone on your side if you do get audited can give you some much-needed peace of mind, though.

5. Learn About Their Clientele

It’s best to work with a tax preparer who has a history of working with clients like you.

Think about what tax-related issues you need help with. For example, do you run your own business or have a side hustle? Do you just need basic tax filing help?

Whatever your specific needs are, ask about the preparer’s experience working with people who have similar needs before you agree to hire them.

6. Perform a Background Check

Before you hire a tax preparer, it’s best to conduct a background check on them, too.

At the very least, you should make sure there aren’t any complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau.

Make sure that their license is up to date and that they’re in good standing with your state boards of accountancy, too.

7. Find Someone Who’s Future-Focused

Look for a tax preparer who’s focused on saving you money now but also has your best interests for the future in mind. A good tax preparer will offer advice on how you can reduce your taxable income later on.

For example, they might recommend putting some money in a Roth IRA instead of putting all your retirement funds in a 401(k). That way, you won’t have to worry about paying taxes on the money you withdraw in the future after you’ve retired.

8. Read Online Reviews

Be sure to look at every tax preparer’s online review before you decide which one you’re going to hire. Look for detailed reviews that list the pros and cons of each tax preparer.

According to this Anthem Tax Services review, it’s a good idea to look at their services list, too, and make sure they’re equipped to help someone with your specific financial and tax filing needs.

Need More Tax Advice?

It’s not always easy to find the right tax preparer to help you get your finances in order.

It’s definitely worth the effort, though, and the tips listed above will make the process much simpler.

The sooner you begin your search, though, the more prepared you’ll be when tax season rolls around next year.

Are you looking for more tax filing advice? If so, we’ve got lots of resources available on our website.

Start by checking out this article on why you shouldn’t wait to file your taxes. It’ll give you a much-needed reality check on the risks of procrastination.

Posted in: Personal Finance

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