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  • Writer's pictureThe Hammonton Gazette

How to find a tax prep professional


Courtesy Photo It can be beneficial to work with a tax professional when completing your return

The deadline to file 2023 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2024. Tax returns can be complicated, particularly for adults who own their homes and have dependents.


Though it’s not impossible for individuals to fill out and file their own returns, the complexity of the process and the stakes involved underscore how beneficial it can be to work with a tax accountant.


Advertisements promoting the services of tax preparation professionals are hard to miss between January and April. Though it’s great to have options, it can be hard for taxpayers to find the right tax pro for them. The following tips can make that process a little easier.


• Ask around. Neighbors, family and friends can be a great resource when looking for a tax preparation service. Ask people you trust who does their taxes and inquire about fees and additional services if they recommend a certain individual or firm.


• Look local. Tax laws differ from state to state, and taxpayers typically must file both state and federal returns.


While an out-of-state tax preparation professional may be qualified to work on your return, it might be easier to pick a local tax pro.


• Ask for a preparer tax identification number. The Internal Revenue Service notes that all tax return preparers who are compensated for preparing, or assisting in the preparation of, all or substantially all of any United States federal tax return, claim for refund, or other tax form submitted to the IRS are required to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).


Though there are exceptions to that rule, taxpayers should recognize that anyone they pay to prepare their return must have a PTIN. Ask for this and ensure the PTIN is listed on your return.


• Check a tax preparer’s credentials. The IRS maintains a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications (irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf) to help taxpayers find preparers in their area whose credentials are recognized by the IRS or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion. Taxpayers can utilize that directory to find professionals, and such an approach can ease some of the concerns they may have about working with someone new.


• Compare fees. When shopping around for a tax preparation professional, ask each about their fees. A 2023 survey from Drake Software found that tax preparers expected to charge between $250 and $300 per personal tax return.


Taxpayers can compare fees and then choose a tax preparer who fits into their budget.

These are just a handful of strategies taxpayers can employ to find a tax prep pro. More information about filing tax returns is available at irs.gov.

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