Although there are literally tax preparers standing on the street corners (sometimes in ridiculous costumes), it can be tough to find a qualified income tax preparer near you. Of course, word of mouth is a good way to find a preparer, by way of your family or friends – but what if you still can’t find a qualified tax preparer that you can trust?
From all of the horror stories I’ve heard recently about how taxpayers are being overcharged dramatically and paying for a lot of “extras” that they really don’t need, such as refund anticipation loans and audit protection services, there’s never been a better time to choose a preparer wisely.
After all, as fast as an eFiled, direct deposit refund processes these days, there is no need to pay through the nose for one of those payday refund anticipation loans. And as far as the “audit protection” that some preparation services will sell you, if the preparer won’t stand behind his work in the first place, it’s hard to believe paying them a couple hundred bucks is a good idea either.
The IRS has a new service available that can help you to find a tax preparer. It’s a directory lookup service, listing qualified enrolled agents, CPAs, tax attorneys, and preparers who have completed the IRS’s voluntary Annual Filing Season Program.
This directory isn’t a complete listing of all possible tax preparers, only those who have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and who are either an attorney, a CPA, Enrolled Agent, Enrolled Actuary, Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent, or a preparer who is taking part in the Annual Filing Season Program. The directory listing will show the name, city, state, and zip code of the included tax preparers. You can search by location, or by a specific set of credentials that you’re looking for in a preparer.
The search directory is found at the following link: www.irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf
According to the IRS:
Go to IRS.gov/chooseataxpro to find out more about the different types of tax preparers. Use the new partner page on IRS.gov for links to the websites of national non-profit tax professional groups. These groups can also help you find the type of qualified tax help that you prefer.
Whether you pay a tax preparer, seek volunteer help or do your own taxes, you should file your tax return electronically. IRS e-file is the easiest way to file a complete and accurate tax return. Visit IRS.gov to check out your e-file options.