When you have a specific health problem, you see a specialist, right? This tax season, look for select specialties in your tax preparer, recommends Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayers Union, Alexandria, Va.
Sepp offers the following tips:
- Don't procrastinate. Look for a preparer long before March or April because competent preparers will be swamped with work in the final month before April 15.
- Rely on references. Family and friends are great resources when you're looking for success and horror stories of their past preparers.
- Know your needs. Single or married taxpayers with a simple personal income tax return may benefit from using larger firms that crank these out rather easily. However, if you own a small business or have a complex tax situation, you may benefit from working with a CPA firm that focuses on small business tax matters.
- Compare prices. Ask about fees before having any work done.
- Check credentials. Ask about the preparer's credentials in a face-to-face visit ahead of time. A good indicator of a preparer's trustworthiness is being a member of the American Institute of CPAs or the National Association of Enrolled Agents.