taxes

How to choose a tax preparer

Taxes » Tax Filing » How To Choose A Tax Preparer

IRS regulations in force
IRS regulations in force

For years, anyone who wanted to prepare taxes could simply hang out a shingle and start filling out tax returns for a fee. Such operations include accountants, mom-and-pop tax preparation firms, and storefronts that pop up in January and close in April.

While a few states have regulated tax preparers, there was no federal oversight in place.

In 2011, the IRS instituted a system to track every person who is paid to prepare and file returns and make sure they have at least a basic level of tax competence. Under the IRS proposal, attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents would be exempt from a tax competency testing requirement because these professionals already must meet continuing education standards set by their licensing organizations.

The IRS is still issuing each tax preparer an identification number, or PTIN, but its plan to require most independent tax preparers to pass a competency exam is on hold.

The stay on testing is the result of a federal lawsuit opposing the plan brought by three independent tax preparers. The IRS lost the first legal round in January 2012. The agency is awaiting a ruling on its appeal.

In the meantime, be sure to ask any potential tax preparer for references and assurances that the office will be open after your return is filed in case you or the IRS have follow-up questions.

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
advertisement
MORTGAGE HOME EQUITY AUTO CDs CREDIT CARDS
Product Rate Change Last week
30 year fixed, 0 point 4.28%  0.02 4.26%
15 year fixed, 0 point 3.30% --0.00 3.30%
5/1 ARM 3.35%  0.05 3.30%
 
View Rates in your area Search
Product Rate Change Last week
30K FICO-based HELOC 4.74%  0.01 4.75%
50K FICO-based HELOC 4.53%  0.02 4.51%
100K FICO-based HELOC 4.26%  0.02 4.24%
 
View Rates in your area Search
Product Rate Change Last week
60 month used car loan 2.86% --0.00 2.86%
48 month used car loan 2.79% --0.00 2.79%
60 month new car loan 2.94% --0.00 2.94%
 
View Rates in your area Search
Product Rate Change Last week
1 Year CD 0.89%  0.00 0.89%
2 Year CD 1.02% --0.01 1.01%
5 Year CD 1.59% --0.00 1.59%
 
View Rates in your area Search
Product Rate Change Last week
Balance Transfer Cards 15.67%  0.04 15.71%
Cash Back Cards 16.32%  0.04 16.36%
Low Interest Cards 10.91% --0.00 10.91%
 
Search
DAILY TAX TIP NEWSLETTER

Get expert advice during tax season on tax preparation and tips for cutting your tax bill.

advertisement

Connect with us