Preparing your taxes is often an overwhelming task that causes headaches and concerns. Selecting the right tax preparer to examine your financial statements and prepare a tax return is crucial; especially if you own a business.

What To Look for in a Professional Tax Preparer

In 2012, the IRS mandated all tax preparers to register with them and obtain a Preparer Identification Number (PTIN). This number must be included along with their signature on all tax forms they prepare. Avoid any tax preparers who decline to sign your tax return(s). Whether an individual or company, your tax professional should be knowledgeable and professional in all matters.

The role of a tax preparer involves communication, planning, organizing and assembling financial data. Accuracy and integrity are the highest priority, since you (the taxpayer) are responsible for penalties and fees resulting from inaccurate tax submissions.

When choosing a professional tax preparer, look for:

Accounting and Tax Preparation

In many cases, the individual or firms that prepare a tax return may also be involved in the normal accounting and planning decisions for an individual or a business throughout the year. State, federal and local tax submissions should not be viewed simply as a once-per-year event, but more as an integral part of an ongoing tax planning process. Since the timing of certain investments and capital expenditures should consider all tax ramifications, ongoing consultation with a knowledgeable tax advisor/preparer is recommended.

Tips From The Internal Revenue Service

Below are a few suggestions from the IRS for selecting a firm or an individual to prepare a tax return:

  • Standard service fee
    • Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who promise larger refunds than other preparers.
  • An e-file return option.
    • Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns generally must e-file their clients’ The IRS has safely processed more than 1.3 billion e-filed tax returns.
  • Make sure the preparer is always accessible and communicative.

In summary, do not ignore even the tiniest of red flags that may arise during your evaluation; after all, your own reputation is at stake.

This article originally appeared on Ernst Wintter & Associates’ blog.