Are you stuck on choosing a Tax Preparer?
“One size fits all,” doesn’t apply when choosing your tax preparer. Take a second to imagine this scenario. John is a college student and it’s time to file his taxes for the very first time. Nerve wracking, isn’t it? He has one W-2 statement and a myriad of education expenses that surely affected his bank account. He’s unsure of where to begin and if he should simply file online or visit a tax accountant.
Whether you’re new to taxes, like John, or an experienced taxpayer, filing your tax return can be a demanding process. On top of that, you might be wondering if you should file your tax return online or go to a local tax accountant. Here are some tax tips to consider when making that decision.
Online filing may be right for you.
During tax season, convenience, quality and time are both important. By filing your taxes online, you can complete a self-prepared return by opting to e-file your current year tax return or paper file your prior year return right from the comfort of your own home. Tax preparation sites require you to have:
- Correct identification numbers
- Insurance statements
- Income statements or any other statements that you are required to file.
Most likely, if you have one income statement and out of pocket expenses, you won’t need a CPA to finalize your return. Using tax preparation websites allows you to work on your taxes at your own pace, organize your information, avoid hefty fees, lengthy waiting times and physically visiting an office. Take into account that a local tax accountant may charge you an arm and a leg for a basic tax return. Purchasing an online service could be more affordable when it comes to pricing.
The Tax Accountant Route
When you’re in a rut with the IRS, a certified public accountant (CPA), an enrolled agent (EA), or a tax attorney can assist you in your tax situation to ensure you have the documents you need. In the case that you received a letter in the mail and end up getting hit with filing penalties, they can instruct you on what you need to do. They can also work with you if you’re facing an audit to represent your case. Some online sites offer these services such as an in depth Professional Review and CPA consultation, so you can look into these options.
We recommend you use a CPA to discuss your return in person if you have a partnership, trust, itemized deductions, carry-forward losses and if you have more than one business.
Look out for these preparers!
When you’re in a rush to finish your taxes, you could be looking past crucial warning signs when choosing your tax preparer. Here are some red flags for tax preparers:
- Preparers who promise larger refunds without a consultation.
- Preparers who plan on depositing your refund into their bank account or taking a portion of it.
- Your preparer does not offer IRS e-file. If you pay a tax preparer, and they file more than 10 returns, they must file your return electronically.
- Preparers who do not ask for records and receipts if you are itemizing or reporting expenses.
- A preparer who goes against the IRS and claims you can use your last pay stub instead of your income statement.
- A paid preparer who does not sign your return and does not include their PTIN.
Paying attention to these signs when you’re meeting with any tax professional will save you time in eliminating options that will hurt you in the long run.
Do some research.
Beware of a tax preparer who charges extensive fees and has suspicious availability times. They must be available even after you file your return. Luckily, the IRS provides a page called the Authorized IRS E-file Providers which will let you find valid companies. You will need to enter the company’s zip code, state and Provider Type. This will list authorized e-file companies and their locations. You can even choose “All Types of Providers” if you are unsure.
If you plan on using a CPA, an EA or any tax professional, look for the following qualifications:
- Proper Training: Tax preparers need this to grasp an understanding of intricate tax questions and circumstances.
- Continuing Education: Your tax preparer is informed about ongoing tax debates and official tax laws such as federal tax codes, regulations, and state and local taxes because they are constantly being subject to change.
- Professional License: Your enrolled tax agent, public accountant or attorney has a valid license, PTIN or certificate to prepare tax returns.
Most importantly, reach out to your tax preparer. Call your tax accountant about your specific tax situation, preparation fees, refunds and their qualifications. For online sites, reach out to their customer care team by phone, live chat or send an email to contact a representative. Click here to view useful tips in recognizing your tax preparer’s qualifications by the IRS.
Relax with RapidTax.
We offer free basic tax advice, pricing to accommodate your tax situation, and we also assist in audit protection, professional review and CPA review for your safety. Completing your tax return for both current year and prior year returns is simple with our user friendly site. There’s even a “Save Refund & Log Out” feature so you can save your progress and come back to finish your tax return.
- Register for an account by selecting a tax year from the drop down menu to create a username and password.
- Enter your personal information, income statements, tax deductions, and we will even let you know what credits you’re eligible for!
- Submit your account to us so you can receive your return within 1-2 business days.
Don’t worry about your busy schedule, you can e-file your current year tax return on January 29th and paper-file your prior year tax return without having to worry about appointment times. Watch our tax software figure your refund at the top of your page while you’re entering your tax information. As for time, being able to finish your tax return in under a time span of two days seems impossible, right? With RapidTax, you can have it ready within one business day by contacting our representatives directly. It’s that easy. Check out our useful tax calculator page so you can figure your refund before deciding to file!
Trial and error
Most websites let you start for free which means that you can make accounts with multiple websites. You can navigate through different websites to find out which one meets your needs. We recommend that you find a website that is easy to use, provides an accessible knowledge base and quality service. Keep in mind, some tax websites do not provide services for certain tax situations. For instance, some online tax companies cannot prepare foreign income federal forms.
When it comes to cost, check your tax preparer’s pricing packages to see how it differs. Double-check that you aren’t paying more for the preparation of your taxes than you’re required to.
Ready to file?
Be the early bird this tax season! Create an account to file your current year return and even catch up on your prior year tax returns! RapidTax offers you easy-to-use tax software so you can finish your tax return fast. Don’t hesitate to contact our customer care team by phone, live chat or email if you need further assistance.