Magazine article Black Enterprise

Choosing the Right Tax Professional: Before You File, Read These Last-Minute Tips

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Choosing the Right Tax Professional: Before You File, Read These Last-Minute Tips

Article excerpt

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN--TAX SEASON. AND IF you're one of nearly 1.4 million Americans who were audited last year, you know that now is not the time to take a gamble. "Choose your preparer as carefully as you would choose your doctor or lawyer," advises Michelle Lamishaw, spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service. Filing a return with inaccurate information could lead to serious consequences. Here are some tips for picking a winner so that you'll stay out of hot water:

Select a reputable tax preparer with appropriate credentials. Ensure that this person has been in business for at least a few years, is licensed, and has a complaint-free history--which can be checked with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), the state's board of accountancy for certified public accountants, or the state's bar association for attorneys. There are several types of preparers: Enrolled agents are licensed by the U.S. Department of the Treasuryto represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS for audits, collections, and appeals; CPAs are most often college graduates who have passed a national exam and met additional state education requirements; and tax attorneys have advanced training in tax law. Other professionals include accredited tax advisers, accredited tax preparers, and certified financial planners."If you're looking for someone who can represent you before the IRS in all matters including audits, collections, and the appeals process, you'll need an attorney, a CPA, or an enrolled agent," Lamishaw says. "Other preparers may only represent taxpayers for the audits of the returns they prepared," she says. You can contact your state's board of accountancy to check the status of a CPA'S license or to determine whether or not there has been disciplinary action taken against him or her. Contact the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (202-927-3397) to check an enrolled agent's background. …

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