BBB Tips on Choosing a Tax Preparer

February 01, 2010

It’s time to start working on your taxes! If you plan to hire someone to do your taxes this year, BBB recommends you choose a preparer wisely. Tax payers are ultimately responsible for everything on their return, even if it is prepared by someone else.

Reputable tax preparers will ask tax payers several questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify and remind clients that they need to keep careful and complete records in order to substantiate information on their tax return.
The BBB offers these tips when choosing a tax preparer:

· Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for Certified Public Accountants or the state’s bar association for attorneys. Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.

· Ask family and friends for recommendations.

· Find out what the service fees are before the return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.

· Only use a tax professional that signs your tax return and provides you with a copy for your records.

· Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.

· Determine if the preparer’s credentials meet your needs. Does your state have licensing or registration requirements for paid preparers? Is he or she an enrolled agent, CPA or attorney? If so, the preparer can represent taxpayers before the IRS on all matters, including audits, collections, and appeals. Other return preparers can represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return signed as a preparer.

· Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions.

You’ll also want to avoid any tax scams. Remember, the IRS will not contact you by phone or email and ask for your personal information. They will contact you by mail, only. Go to for more information on tax related scams. You can contact the Better Business Bureau at or call 1-800-388-2222.