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5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Tax Preparer

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As an individual or small business owner, tax season is never fun. From collecting receipts to preparing for the months to come, there is a lot on your plate.

Do you already have a tax preparer you can trust? If so, stick with this person for as long as possible. It's not always simple to find somebody who meets your every want and need.

If for any reason you don't have a tax preparer to rely on this year, you may find yourself in a rush to make a decision. Although you may be in a hurry, as the filing deadline closes in, don't rush to the point of choosing just anybody to provide assistance. Instead, ask these five questions as you interview potential tax preparers:

  • What is your tax background? This one question will help you better understand what the person brings to the table. For example, one person may be a certified public accountant (CPA) while another is an enrolled agent (EA).
  • Do you have experience preparing my type of return? If you are an individual with a relatively simple tax situation, you don't need the most experienced professional. But if you are a small business owner, for example, you must find somebody who is experienced in this area.
  • What documentation and records do you need from me? Get this list as far in advance as possible. This way you have plenty of time to collect everything you need.
  • What are your fees? Can your fees change? You should get a basic idea of how much a person charges before agreeing for him or her to prepare your taxes. Even if it's only an estimate, it's better than going into this "blind."
  • What happens in the event of an audit? Nobody wants to think about an audit, but this happens to thousands of people every year. You need to know how the tax preparer handles audits, including the assistance they will provide and how much they will charge.

If time is running out, if you need to choose a tax preparer in the near future, ask these five questions every time you reach out to somebody. The answers will lead you towards the right tax professional. 

Want more insight into tax changes going into effect this year? Our 2017 Small Business Tax Changes Guide highlights some key differences for this year.