New IRS online tax pro directory

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You tried filling out your tax return on your own, and even with tax software, it was just too much. Too much time. Too much trouble. Too much frustration.

So you’ve decided to hand off the hassles to a tax professional.

Now what?

First, check out Bankrate’s explanation of the various tax preparers to decide which works best for your situation.

Then head to the Internal Revenue Service website and take advantage of its new tax preparer directory to find some tax pros in your area.

Easing tax pro searches

The online directory of tax professionals is part of the IRS’ Annual Filing Season Program, or AFSP, begun this year to help ensure more tax preparers have the knowledge and skills to file accurate returns for clients.

“This new directory will be a practical tool for the millions of Americans who rely on the services of a paid return preparer,” according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The searchable, sortable online listing features the name, city, state and Zip code of tax pros who’ve met IRS or their professions’ qualifications.

All types of tax pros

In addition to tax preparers meeting IRS AFSP standards, the directory contains information about attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement plan agents and enrolled actuaries with a valid IRS preparer tax identification number, or PTIN.

Since 2010, the IRS has required anyone who prepares federal tax returns for compensation to obtain a PTIN. At the start of this year’s filing season, the IRS says more than 666,000 tax return preparers had active ID numbers.

More than 140 million individual tax returns were filed last year, and more than half of them were prepared with the help of a paid return preparer.

Don’t be surprised if that number goes up this year, as more folks are likely to be seeking professional help in dealing with the new Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, provisions that are part of the tax system for the first time on 2014 returns.

More tax info from Bankrate

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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”