It is no secret that many people often prefer to hire tax advisors to file their taxes. However, many people are unaware that this option even exists. If they do, they often refrain from asking the important questions in the beginning to legitimize their potential advisor. A total of 80% of people who acquire tax advisors never bother to ask about documentation or credentials. Through a recent survey, around 75% of people never bother to ask whether their advisor will be representing them if a tax audit happens or not.
To some, hiring a tax advisor may sound like a crazy idea. Sharing all their personal details with that person regarding their income, their accounts, personal life, kids, along with their social security number, maybe extremely anxiety-provoking. The question becomes, how can you find a reliable tax advisor with proper credentials and who fits your specific needs? Here are few tips that will help you:
Ask for an advisors Tax Identification Number
According to the Internal Revenue Service, anyone who is assisting or preparing to assist in federal tax returns must acquire a PTIN. However, these rules don’t apply to volunteer advisors. Always be sure that the tax advisor you have hired has a legitimate PTIN number and that they put it on your tax returns, as this is also a requirement of the IRS.
Require a CPA, law license, or Enrolled Agent description
It is not hard to obtain a PTIN, so why settle there? Advance a step and get an advisor who is a certified/ licensed enrolled agent. This is someone who has completed the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFS). Such identification requires vast amounts of study along with education and an exam.
How do you find a reliable tax advisor with proper credentials who fits your requirements? A great way is to check out the Internal Revenue Service directory. This contains a list of authentic and recognized professionals that you can choose from. These professionals are reliable and vetted, ensuring that they deliver exceptional service.
Look for friends in high places
Being a member of proficient organizations like the “National Association of Tax Professionals,” “National Association of Enrolled Agents,” or the “American Institute of Certified Public Accountants” is an extremely beneficial credential to have, as most of these organizations have proper moral codes along with a set of certified conduct expectations.
Reconsider those who don’t e-file
The Internal Revenue Service requires a paid tax advisor, who can complete more than ten tax returns for a customer, to be able to file automatically through the Internal Revenue Service e-filing method. If a tax advisor fails to offer an e-file, it is a clear sign that this advisor is lacking in experience and is not doing as much tax prep as they portray.
Confirm they would sign on the dotted line
According to the law, these paid tax advisors are required to sign their customers’ takings and mention their PTINs to ensure legitimacy. Avoid signing a vacant tax return because it will allow advisors to put anything they choose on the return, like their own bank account details, in order to steal your refunds.
Check if they’d have your back
Like enrolled agents, such as attorneys with CPAs, PTINs can represent a client in front of the Internal Revenue Service throughout audits, expenses, compilation problems, etc. Advisors who fulfill the “Annual Filing Season Program” have the authority to represent customers but only under limited circumstances.
Being available and accommodating is also crucial when hiring an advisor. Even after the tax returns are done and the filing season is over, a professional tax advisor will take your case, reply to an email, and allow you to come for a visit.
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