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How to find an Income Tax Preparer, (or what to hunt for.)

Taxpayers should be very careful when choosing a tax preparer. You should be as careful as you would in choosing a doctor or a lawyer. While most preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns and ultimately defraud their clients. It is important to know that even if someone else prepares your return, you are ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return. Taxpayers are responsible for the accuracy of all entries made on their tax returns, which include related schedules, forms and supporting documentation. This remains true whether the return is prepared by the taxpayer or by a return preparer.

Be careful in selecting the tax professional who will prepare your return. Some basic tips and guidelines to assist taxpayers in choosing a reputable tax professional are:

When in doubt, check it out! Taxpayers hearing claims from preparers offering larger refunds than other preparers are encouraged to check it out with a trusted tax professional or the IRS before getting involved.

Now that the basics have been covered, keep in mind the following;

Attitude is everything. Is this person genuine? You want someone who cares about you, the client, more than whom they work for. You need to come first, period. A person who cares will take the time to explain what they did, why they did it, and the benefit to you, but just as important, they will take the time to know you. 

Happiness counts too! Is the preparer happy. Do they like where they are at and how the company treats them? This is important because if you go to the biggest firms you may find that behind all of the glitter is discontentment. This rubs off on even the best. Day in and day out you simply get beaten down until you no longer care. If you make a mistake, tough, let the company worry about it.

Environment plays a big part. Are you in a professional office or are you in a tax return mill. Are you next or what? Is there disruption and distraction playing into your mind set? Screaming kids, obnoxious people with hygiene problems? Are you getting your taxes done or does it seem like a time share presentation? 

References, most articles you will read about finding someone good or whom you can trust, will always mention 'ask your friends'. What if your friends are idiots? I think you would be far better served if you asked those whom you respect. Ask the people whom you admire. Ask them if they are satisfied with who does their taxes. Ask them if they get value for their money. Ask successful people, not your beer drinking, money borrowing, brother in law who is waiting for the next big deal to close. Hunting really is a crap shoot. You roll the dice and hope.

Expectations, be realistic. What do you expect? Do you really think that you are going to get the very best simply by walking into an office and taking whom ever is available to do your taxes?