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IRS: Choose Wisely When Selecting a Tax Preparer

PHOTO: Mark Hanson, an IRS spokesman for North Carolina, says a tax return is an important financial document, so itís important to use caution when choosing a paid professional to prepare and file your income taxes. Photo credit: moderncog/Morguefile.
PHOTO: Mark Hanson, an IRS spokesman for North Carolina, says a tax return is an important financial document, so itís important to use caution when choosing a paid professional to prepare and file your income taxes. Photo credit: moderncog/Morguefile.
January 12, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. – Filing taxes is one of the most important yearly financial transactions for North Carolinians, and the Internal Revenue Service says it's crucial to be wise about choosing a tax preparer.

Mark Hanson, an IRS spokesman for North Carolina, says most preparers are knowledgeable and trustworthy, but sometimes taxpayers can be misled by those who don't understand complex tax situations – or who mislead people into taking credits or deductions they aren't entitled to, in order to increase their own fee.

"Each year, it's not uncommon to find stories around the country where a tax preparer has done something that may not necessarily be right,” Hanson points out. “So, you want to make sure you’re having someone who represents your best interests, and does so legally."

Hanson says a reliable tax professional will have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number. And he advises taxpayers to investigate the person's professional credentials, review the return before signing and make sure to get a copy of the return.

Hanson recommends also checking the service fees for a professional tax service upfront.

"A tax preparer should not be charging you a fee based upon the amount of refund you are expected to get,” he stresses. “This could be a red flag, right up front."

Hanson adds taxpayers should also avoid those who promise they can get you a larger return than others. He adds it's important to make sure any refund is sent directly to you, never to the tax preparer.

Hanson notes you're still legally responsible for what is on your return, even if you don't prepare it yourself.

"If the IRS questions the accuracy of any information, we're going to ask you the taxpayer – not necessarily your tax preparer,” he stresses. “So, once you sign that return, you're telling the IRS, 'This is a complete and accurate return,' to the best of your knowledge. Once you sign it, you own it."

Not everyone needs to use a professional. Hanson says about 75 percent of taxpayers based on income level can qualify to use tax preparation software free of charge.

Information is online at freefile.irs.gov.



Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NC