Best Tax Preparation Service Missoula, MT
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Tips For Finding The Best Tax Preparation Service
Seemingly endless series of tax forms, easy-to-overlook deductions, and changing tax laws can lead to lots of confusion when it comes to filing time. If you need help with your returns, then you will be glad to know that you are not alone. According to the IRS, over half of all taxpayers hire the services of a professional tax preparer or tax preparation service.
However, when it comes to choosing a Missoula tax preparer, it is vital that you be very careful. It is worth noting that you’re legally responsible for all your return information, irrespective of who you choose to help you fill it out. At the same time, the person or service you decide to prepare your returns needs to be someone you trust considering that you will be trusting him or her with your most personal information, and that includes your social security number, children’s names, and income.
While many Missoula tax preparation service providers are professionals who provide outstanding services, the IRS still receives numerous reports of taxpayer’s fraud each year. Interestingly, tax preparers in most of America’s states face lesser regulatory requirements compared to hairdressers. At the same time, even honest tax preparers will get their numbers wrong. According to an investigation conducted in 2014 by the Government Accountability Office, just 2 out of 19 preparers made the correct refund.
To help ensure that you hire the best tax preparation service or professional, here is a quick guide for you to consider:
Pick The Perfect Pro
When it comes to choosing a tax preparer, it is worth noting that there aren’t any federal minimum professional, educational, or competency requirements for tax preparers. All the different types of tax experts that can help you with your returns have different educational and expertise requirements. Therefore, to figure out which type of professional to go for, it is essential that you, first of all, figure out who’s who.
- Certified Public Accountants (CPAs): CPAs are professionals who have to pass a state qualifying exam and meet specific state licensing criteria before they can be eligible to represent clients before the IRS in the event of a collection or payment issue, appeal, or audit. However, it is worth noting that not all CPAs do prepare personal returns, so find out if they do first.
- Enrolled Agents: Enrolled agents are tax professionals licensed by the Internal Revenue Service to represent you before it. These professionals must, first of all, pass a comprehensive exam which covers business and individual tax preparation, representation, and federal tax planning. Most of these professionals focus on specific areas of tax, so make sure that the specialties of the person you choose match your concern.
- PTIN Holders: This tax preparers category covers all other professionals with an active prepare tax ID number issued by the IRS but who do not have a professional license. They are authorized by the IRS to prepare tax returns but can’t represent you before the service in the event an issue arises.
Investigate Your Preparer
To hire the best tax preparation service provider, it is vital that you take the time to learn more about the professional or service you are considering. Consider using the Internal Revenue Service’s Directory of Tax Return Prepares to find preparers within your locality with the expertise you are looking for. Make sure that you confirm the preparer’s credentials, and that he or she has an updated PTIN. It is also vital that you check to see if the service provider has any disciplinary actions taken against him or her and the status of their license. Also, be on the lookout for red flags! Avoid any preparer who claims that they can get you large refunds or who promise you a refund without even having seen your previous tax returns or any of your records.
Ask About Fees
Find out how much the professional preparer you are considering charges for his or her services. Once you’ve contacted the preparer you are thinking of, ask them about the fees they charge. A professional preparer should not have a problem explaining the basis of their fee structure. Do they charge a flat fee or is it an hourly rate? Avoid any tax preparer who bases their fees on a small percentage of your returns as this may push them to find ways to increase your refund, even if it means using fraudulent tricks.
Review Your Returns
Considering that you’re legally responsible for all the information on your returns, it is advisable that you carefully go through the returns your preparer prepares for before signing them and filing. The law requires that paid preparers sign returns and must include their PTIN. It is advisable that you make a copy of the return’s prepared, and make sure that you still can reach your preparer even after the filing deadline in the event a problem arises. Do not be afraid of asking the preparer questions if something seems unclear or amiss right from the first day you meet to the day they file your returns. The IRS recommends that you avoid working with any preparer who requests you to sign a blank tax form or who is not willing to submit your returns electronically through the IRS e-file.
By considering the above aspects when searching for the best tax preparation service in Missoula, finding a professional or service provider you can rely on shouldn’t be that hard. Take the time to do some research and consider some of the aspects mentioned here before hiring a preparer as tax filing is one issue that needs to be taken seriously. All the best in your quest!