Three tips for picking a certified public accountant to file your income taxes

Choosing a certified public accountant will provide longterm benefits

It’s never too early to start thinking about what tax service to use to file your income taxes. In fact, you may be deciding whether to use a free service or a certified public accountant for your 2018 tax preparation in the United States.

While more than 70 percent of taxpayers use free tax software, through the changes made in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) legislation passed in December 2017, it might be a good time to think about using a professional accountant. 

If you choose a professional certified public accountant, the IRS has some suggestions to ensure you get the best service available.

1. Make sure they have a PTIN from the IRS

All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN. The IRS offers tips to help taxpayers choose a tax return preparer wisely.

2. Check their professional credentials

The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications is a listing of preparers who have a professional credential or participate in the IRS Annual Filing Season Program.

You can also check the professional organizations in which many tax preparers belong.

3. Avoid dishonest accountants

It seems like simple advice but the IRS urges taxpayers to avoid dishonest preparers. Common warning signs of an unscrupulous preparer include only taking cash payments, basing the fee on the size of the tax refund or not signing the tax return.

A “ghost preparer” may include fake claims to get a larger refund but makes the return appear to be self-prepared. The IRS stresses that by signing the return, the taxpayer becomes legally responsible for its accuracy, no matter who prepared it.

Once you decide on a tax preparer, you may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from their prior-year tax return to verify your identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

Contact Dempsey Vantrease & Follis

If you’re on the fence about filling your taxes online or with a certified public accountant, then contact a member of the DVF team today. With many new changes within the tax landscape, it is of importance to make sure you understand how the tax plan will affect  your tax and financial picture.