Is Your Tax Preparation in the Right Hands?

As the New Year opens, one business task to begin is your 2020 tax return preparation. CFO Service Group’s job as a management accounting team is to work with your tax preparer and provide the information they need. We also want you to engage a qualified, credible tax accountant. Here are some tips on finding the tax accountant that’s right for you.

TIP #1: Ask for credentials and a preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

Many people and businesses don’t think to ask their tax accountant for credentials or PTIN. The PTIN is an identification number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. All compensated tax return preparers must sign your tax return and include the PTIN.

Depending on the complexity and needs of your business, you may also require specific credentials.

Enrolled agent – An enrolled agent has either passed a comprehensive IRS test covering individual and business tax returns, or met a certain level of experience as a former IRS employee. Enrolled agents may represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service.

Certified public accountant (CPA)
– A CPA earns a license to provide accounting services to the public by completing state-required education, testing, and experience. Confirm a CPA’s license status through the State Board of Accountancy.

Licensed tax attorney
– A lawyers who specialize in the technical aspects of tax law. You can find attorneys with tax specialization in the American Bar Association’s online directory.

TIP #2: Ask for referrals.

The best way to find a trustworthy accountant is through referrals. CFO Services Group has worked with many tax accountants that we can refer you to. You can also ask any trusted business partners or other business owners for recommendations.
The Internal Revenue Service offers an online directory of qualified, credentialed tax preparers.

TIP #3: Ask if they use e-file services.

Most tax accountants will e-file, as the IRS requires anyone who completes more than 10 returns to file electronically via the IRS’s online system. If your tax accountant does not do this, ask why. It may mean they don’t have many clients or experience.

TIP #4: Review your return and never sign a blank return.

Before signing and submitting your return, review all sections and the information provided. Be sure to ask your preparer any questions you have. Always have your tax preparer sign the return and include their PTIN. Never sign a blank return. The return will show your bank routing and account number on it for refunds. Make sure the tax preparer isn’t putting their own bank information on there.

TIP #5: Be wary of promises of large refund.

Ask the tax preparer for their rates.The preparer promising you a large tax refund right off the bat and offering to charge you only a percentage of your refund is a red flag. It is unlikely anyone can determine your refund prior to completing the return. Also, most tax accountants charge by the hour as they won’t know how much time they’ll need to put in until they review your financials.

TIP #6: Will they be able to represent you if your return is selected for an IRS tax audit?

In case of a tax audit by the IRS, CPAs and tax attorneys can represent you. Make sure they’re willing to back you up if your tax return is selected for an audit. Even if you are not facing an audit, the tax preparer should be available throughout the year to provide tax planning and answer your questions. Changes in financial and personal circumstances may call for your preparer to recalculate your quarterly and total tax due.

It’s vitally important that your tax return is completed accurately, comprehensively, and timely. There are many tax preparers, but only a few that I would trust! If you’re not sure about how to select a good tax preparer, then contact us. We have a handful of preparers that we know and trust and are happy to refer one to you.