Taxes are an unfortunate reality of life, and for your sake and the sake of your family or business it’s important to get them right. Filing yourself using a computer program or even the old paper method is liable to result in mistakes that could cost you a lot down the line when the IRS comes calling, or mean that you’re giving away money that you don’t need to spend. Nearly anyone can benefit from using the services of tax accountaints, and here’s what you need to know to choose the right one.
Start With Referrals
Tax accountants can specialize in different areas of tax law, so it’s worth asking around for recommendations from epople in situations simlar to yours. It’s also a good idea to ask other professionals, such as your lawyer or real estate agent, for accounting services recommendations. Be sure to explain what you need so you can get good advice.
You’re not committed forever to doing your accounting with any one person. Don’t be afraid to do some shopping around if you’re not completely comfortable and satisfied with the accountant you first land on.
Know What the Retail Franchises Can Do
Big tax franchises specialize in quickly churning through fairly simple tax returns. Not everyone in a local office is a certified public accountant or enrolled agent, but sometimes there are such professionals working in these franchises. Check to find out if your case is at all complex.
Don’t Fall For a Line
If any tax accountants promise you they can get you giant refunds or claim that you can deduct nearly anything and everything from your taxes, you should be suspicious. The really professional and competent tax accountants won’t make promises until they fully understand the situation and have seen all the paperwork.
Know What Questions to Ask
Be sure to ask any tax accountants about what licenses they have, how long they’ve been in business, what their accounting area of expertise is, what their fees run to, whether or not they outsource the work, how long it takes to finish the taxes, and what their privacy policies are. It also never hurts to run a background check by finding out their standing with the state board of accountancy or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.
Know Your Tax Professionals
There are three types of professionals who might be able to meet your needs. CPAs, probably the most well known of the three, are licensed by the states in which they work and they often are specialist in a particular accounting area. Not all CPAs will handle tax issues, however. Enrolled agents pass testing and background checks administered by the IRS and are specialists in complex tax situations. Finally, there are tax attorneys who are simply attorneys who specialize in tax law. They are also good at dealing with complex legal issues like estate taxes.
If you’re facing complex tax issues, don’t try to go it alone. You’re liable to lose money, and you might just create more problems for yourself in the long run. Find tax accountants in your area that can help you straighten out your situation and get you the best possible outcome.