Tips for Choosing a Tax Preparer:
- Check to be sure the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Anyone with a valid 2017 PTIN is authorized to prepare federal tax returns. Tax return preparers, however, have differing levels of skills, education and expertise. An important difference in the types of practitioners is “representation rights”. You can learn more about the several different types of return preparers on IRS.gov.
- Ask the tax preparer if they have a professional credential and attend continuing education classes. A number of tax law changes, including the Affordable Care Act provisions, can be complex. A competent tax professional needs to be up-to-date in these matters. Tax return preparers aren’t required to have a professional credential, but make sure you understand the qualifications of the preparer you select.
- Check on the service fees upfront. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others can.
- Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into your bank account. Taxpayers should never deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
- Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file and ask that your return be submitted to the IRS electronically. Any tax professional who gets paid to prepare and file more than 10 returns generally must file the returns electronically. It’s the safest and most accurate way to file a return, whether you do it alone or pay someone to prepare and file for you.
- Make sure the preparer will be available. Make sure you’ll be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return – even after the April 18 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions come up about your tax return.
- Provide records and receipts. Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts. They’ll ask you questions to determine your total income, deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not rely on a preparer who is willing to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
- Never sign a blank return. Don’t use a tax preparer that asks you to sign an incomplete or blank tax form.
- Review your return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions if something is not clear. Make sure you’re comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
- Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. Paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.
Tips for Taxpayers Who Missed the Tax Deadline
If you missed the April 18 tax filing deadline, don’t panic. Here’s some advice ...
- File as soon as you can. If you owe taxes, you should file and pay as soon as you can. This will help minimize the interest and penalty charges. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.
- IRS E-file is still available. E-file is available through Oct. 15. E-file is the easiest, safest and most accurate way to file your taxes. With e-file you receive confirmation that the IRS received your tax return. If you e-file and choose direct deposit of your refund, you’ll normally get it within 21 days.
- Pay as much as you can. If you owe tax but can’t pay it all at once, try to pay as much as you can when you file your tax return. Pay the remaining balance as soon as possible to stop further penalties and interest.
- A refund may be
waiting. If you’re due a refund,
you should file as soon as possible to get it. Even if you are not required to
file, you may still get a refund. This could apply if you had taxes withheld
from your wages or you qualify for certain tax credits. If you don’t file your
return within three years, you could forfeit your right to the refund.