How to choose a tax preparer

Dec 03, 2020

This article was first published by the IRS and has been reproduced with permission. Subscribe to IRS tax tips here.

Freelance taxes can be complicated, and no two freelancers have the same financial needs. That's why it's often recommended that you consult a professional for advice on your particular situation, and for help preparing your taxes.

There are different kinds of tax preparers, and a taxpayer's needs will help determine which kind of preparer is best for them. With that in mind, here are some quick tips to help people choose a preparer.

When choosing a tax professional, taxpayers should:

  • Check the IRS Directory of Preparers. While it is not a complete listing of tax preparers, it does include those who are enrolled agents, CPAs and attorneys, as well as those who participate in the Annual Filing Season Program.
  • Check the preparer's history with the Better Business Bureau. Taxpayers can verify an enrolled agent's status on IRS.gov.
  • Ask about fees. Taxpayers should avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of your refund into their financial accounts.
  • Be wary of tax return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than others.
  • Ask if they plan to use e-file.
  • Make sure the preparer is available. People should consider whether the individual or firm will be around for months or years after filing the return. Taxpayers should do this because they might need the preparer to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return.
  • Ensure the preparer signs and includes their preparer tax identification number. Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare tax returns.
  • Check the person's credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in tax matters. Other tax return preparers who participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program have limited practice rights to represent taxpayers during audits of returns they prepared.