Three Steps to Hiring a Tax Professional

14 Jan

There are many types of tax professionals who can help you. But deciding on the appropriate type of tax preparer is the simple part. Finding the right person for the job is the challenge.

If you intend to hire a professional tax preparer for the first time, or are looking for someone new because the one you have right now is doing a poor job, let these steps be your guide:

1. Ask for referrals.

Ask people for recommendations - surely, your friends, family and colleagues will have worked with a tax preparer themselves. If you are new in the area, ask for referrals from with the CPA society in your state, explore the Accreditation Council's website, or use the National Association of Enrolled Agents' enrolled agent search tool.

2. Talk to prospective agents.

Regardless of how busy they are, tax preparers should be able to find time for a a phone interview (usually 20 to 30 minutes). If someone isn't happy to give you that, or if they want you to pay for that initial interview, look elsewhere.

When talking to a tax preparer, be sure to cover the following:


You'll want someone who has been doing the job long enough to be able to anticipate IRS challenges and other potential issues.


You should only work with a Certified Public Accountant, an Accredited Tax Adviser or an Enrolled Agent. And take note that only CPAs can have the Personal Financial Specialist, designation.  Approach your state's licensing board and professional associations to find out whether the candidate has a license, is a member of good standing, and has not been involved in a disciplinary case. Check more info about business accounting services here.


 This can be a crucial point if you have specific needs. If you're a small business owner, for example, you need a estate tax planning who knows business accounting. Or if your business is rental properties, look for someone who has enough experience working with such a tax scenario.


Ask the tax preparer if they will charge a fixed or hourly rate and whether this will be enough for all services, or if there will be add-ons, such as for planning meetings throughout the year.

Single Practitioner vs. Firm

If the tax preparing works for a firm and will not be working directly with you, ask if they will review your returns after the associate completes them.

IRS Representation

 Ask the candidate if they will deal with the IRS in case there are issues with your returns. If not, forget it.  You certainly deserve someone who is willing to defend your case.

3. Watch out for warning signs.

Avoid anyone who plans to cheat the IRS. And finally, don't hire them if they want you to pay them a percentage of your refund. Tax preparers should be paid a flat or hourly fee, period. Be sure to visit to gain more info about tax preparer.

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