They say two things are certain: Death and Taxes. Well filing taxes has become so cumbersome and complex that taxes just might be the death of you if you aren’t careful. Last year, almost 80 million tax returns were submitted by hired tax professionals. If you want yours done right and accurately, you should consider paying an expert to help you with yours, too.
But not all tax preparers are equal. You need to find the right professional with the right credentials and experience needed for your unique tax situation.
So where do you go to choose the right tax preparer for you? Here’s a few places to look:
Use a Tax Franchise Chain
A popular place to find a tax prepare is a tax preparation chain, such as H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax, etc. These franchises train their employees each season and use specialize tax software.
Preparers at these places however generally are only equipped to handle simple tax returns, and generally charge flat fees. They may be suitable for individuals who are looking to get their refunds quickly and early and don’t have complex tax situations.
However, they may not be the best option. There have been numerous complaints about chains overcharging customers, or making costly mistakes on tax returns, so be careful. If you’re not in urgent and immediate need of your tax refund, you may be better off skipping the tax preparation chains.
Use an Enrolled Agent (EA)
Enrolled Agents (EAs) are federally-licensed tax practitioners who are required to pass an IRS exam (or work for the IRS) and complete ongoing tax education and enroll in courses regularly. The enrolled agent license is the highest credential the IRS gives out.
EAs have unlimited rights to represent a taxpayer. If you get called into a meeting or hearing with the IRS, get audited or targeted for collection action, an EA can speak directly to the IRS on your behalf.
EAs often specialize, so you may be able to find an agent with expertise in the specific area(s) you need for your tax situation. Use the National Association of Enrolled Agents website to search for an EA that meets your criteria.
Use a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are state-licensed professionals who have passed the challenging accounting exam and are required to complete continuing professional education credits in order to retain their licensed status.
In addition to preparing your tax return, a CPA may be able to help you with your overall financial plan and tax strategy. If you have a complex financial situation such as owning one or more businesses or rental properties, or if you’re going through a life-changing event such as retirement or divorce, a CPA may be the best option. Like EAs, they can fully represent a taxpayer. Visit the American Institute of CPAs website to learn more about CPAs.
However, keep in mind that not every CPA focuses on taxes or has experience with your situation. Look for a Bolingbrook CPA who specializes in tax preparation, and make sure you ask about their experience.
Use a Tax Attorney
A tax attorney specializes in tax-related legal issues. Although they may not necessarily focus on filing tax returns, they can help you if you are audited, need to pay back taxes, own a corporation or are facing criminal tax charges.
A tax attorney can represent a client before both the IRS and the court. They can also provide guidance on complicated tax matters, such as setting up legal tax shelters. Because tax attorneys tend to specialize, make sure to check that they have experience in the areas that pertain to your situation.
Finding a tax attorney requires just a local internet search.
There are many ways to find a tax preparer near you. The easiest way to get started is just to do a search on Tax preparation Bolingbrook.