Avoid shady tactics and tax preparers on crooks
How to find a reputable tax preparer
There are many types of tax preparers who can help you with your return, depending on how much you’re willing to spend and how much help you need. Some people just file the tax return; others help with tax and financial planning or will represent you before the IRS if you are audited.
Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations, especially if they’ve worked with a preparer for a few years. You can verify the credentials of a tax preparer by using the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Preparers, where you can search for tax professionals in your area who have an IRS preparer tax ID number and find out what special identifying information they hold (CPA, registered agent, lawyer, program participant, annual production season or other PTIN holder).
For example, a chartered accountant must meet the requirements for education, examination, experience, licensing and continuing education, says April Walker, senior manager of the tax practice and ethics team at the American Institute of CPAs. A CPA can also represent you before the IRS if you are audited. You can find a CPA in your area by using the AICPA’s Find a CPA tool.
An enrolled agent is licensed by the IRS, must pass a comprehensive exam and must meet continuing education requirements. Enrolled agents are also authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Many specialize in tax planning and audit assistance. You can find one via the National Association of Registered Agents.
TurboTax, which specializes in tax software, also introduced a full service option this year, where a CPA or registered agent will complete your return for you.
You can also work with a tax preparation service in person or virtually, including H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, or an independent tax preparer.
You may be able to get free help from a Tax assistance from the AARP Foundation volunteer, who can help anyone, but primarily focuses on taxpayers aged 50 or over and with low to moderate income. You can search for free deposit programs in your area with the Get free help with IRS tax preparation tool.
If you are comfortable filing your taxes online and your adjusted gross income in 2020 was $ 72,000 or less, you can file your federal tax return for free via IRS Free File. The IRS partners with several online tax preparation companies, such as TurboTax, to provide these free tax filing services.