How to carefully choose a tax preparer for the 2010 tax season

By Sheri Falk – bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -  Tax time can be stressful  for a number of Americans, which is why most pay someone to file their taxes. Even though handing over your taxes puts the work in their hands, you are still responsible. That's why the IRS encourages everyone to choose a reputable preparer.

"Check references," said IRS Representative Dee Stepter. "You can check with the Better Business Bureau, or you can ask people who have used that particular preparer before."

Stepter said you should also inquire about their certifications, such as associations they may belong to, if they are a Certified Public Accountant, enrolled into an agent and do they have a preparer tax ID number.

"That is something new this year that the IRS is requiring. All tax preparers must have a preparer ID number. Also, if you are paying someone to prepare your return, they should be signing it as well."

Once your taxes have been filed, you should receive a copy of the return. The person you pay should be helpful in explaining what they did and why they did it.

"You are paying for a service, so they should sit down with you if you have questions, go over the tax return with you and answer any questions that you might have."

Who you choose as your tax preparer and what you pay for the service depends on the complexity of your personal tax situation.

Never hire someone who bases the fee on how much your refund is and  be sure they will be around after April 18 in case something goes wrong because mistakes will cost you, not them.

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