Monday, October 15, 2018
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Choosing A Tax Professional

April 15 will be here before you know it. Chances are you're busier than ever, and if you sold or bought a home last year, your tax return could be even more complicated than it has been. You may consider hiring a tax pro to help you sail through tax season stress-free.

Keep in mind that there are several different types of tax professionals available:

Commercial preparers or national chains. Walk in to one of these offices and a preparer will help get your return ready for submission. These services excel at preparing routine returns. The preparers employed by these services can't represent you in dealings with the IRS.

Enrolled agents. These preparers are trained or examined by the IRS and can represent taxpayers in an audit or dispute with the IRS. These agents can handle more complicated returns and advise you on making smart tax moves. These agents are allowed to work in specific geographical regions and are required to continue their education in tax regulations and accounting methods. For a list of enrolled agents in your area, call the National Association of Enrolled Agents at 301-212-9608 or go to the taxpayer section of the association's website

Certified public accountants. To earn the title of CPA, an individual must pass a professional exam administered by the state. Still, not all CPAs are experts in tax matters. These professionals will probably charge the highest rate, but should be able to offer substantial tax planning and advice. They can also represent you in an audit or dispute with the IRS. For a list of CPAs and other tax preparers, call the National Society of Public Accountants or visit the consumer information section of their website at

Whoever you choose to help you with your taxes, keep these precautions in mind:

Choose your preparer wisely. Proceed with caution if someone guarantees you a refund before seeing your specific financial information.

Watch the dotted line. Paid preparers are required to sign the preparer area on your return. Even though the preparer signs your return, however, you are still responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. Review it carefully to make sure everything is correct, especially your personal information, such as name, address and Social Security number. Never sign anything in pencil and make sure you receive a copy of the return from your preparer.
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