With more than half of the nation relying on tax practitioners, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that IRS.gov offers useful information and tips in finding a qualified tax professional.
This is the third in a series of nine IRS news releases called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues. This year’s tax-filing deadline is April 17.
More than 149 million individual returns were filed last year and over 83 million of those were prepared by a paid return preparer. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when selecting a tax professional:
- Select a trusted preparer. Taxpayers entrust vital personal data with the person preparing their tax return, including income, investments and Social Security numbers.
- Review the tax return and ask questions before signing. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their tax return, regardless of whether someone else prepared it.
- Make sure the paid preparer signs the return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
- Never sign a blank tax return. It’s a red flag when a taxpayer is asked to sign a blank tax return.
At IRS.gov, taxpayers can utilize several options to help them find a tax preparer. One resource is Choosing a Tax Professional that includes a list of consumer tips for selecting a tax professional. There is also a page with IRS Tax Pro Association Partners that includes links to national nonprofit tax professional groups that can help taxpayers seek the right type of qualified help from a tax preparer.
The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications is a free searchable and sortable database. It includes the name, city, state and zip code of credentialed return preparers who are CPAs, enrolled agents or attorneys, as well as those who have completed the requirements for the IRS Annual Filing Season Program. A search of the database can help taxpayers verify credentials and qualifications of tax professionals.
The IRS requires anyone who prepares any federal tax return for compensation to have a valid PTIN. For 2018 the IRS has issued more than 728,000 PTINs.
Other tips in the Tax Time Guide are available on IRS.gov.