How to Find the Best Tax Preparer Near You

How to Find the Best Tax Preparer Near You

If you require assistance with tax preparation this year, this checklist can aid you in finding the suitable professional.


In addition to evaluating a tax preparer, it is important to consider other factors when searching for tax assistance. Below are seven guidelines to assist you in finding the most suitable tax preparer near you.

  1. Ask for a preparer tax identification number (PTIN)

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandates that individuals who engage in the preparation or assistance of federal tax returns for monetary compensation must possess a preparer tax identification number (PTIN). It is important to note that this requirement does not apply to volunteer tax preparers. Additionally, it is crucial that your income tax preparer includes their PTIN number on your tax return, as this is also a requirement set forth by the IRS.


2. Require an Enrolled Agent Designation or a CPA

Obtaining a PTIN is a relatively simple process, but it is advisable to take an extra step and engage the services of a qualified preparer who holds additional credentials such as being a certified public accountant (CPA) or an enrolled agent (EA). These professionals are held to higher standards of education and expertise, making them more proficient in their field. 


Additionally, you may also consider collaborating with a tax professional who has successfully completed the IRS’ Annual Filing Season program. Programs like the Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor and Accredited Tax Preparer can assist preparers in meeting the requirements of the Annual Filing Season Program.

3. Seek companionship among influential individuals

To locate a tax preparer near you who possesses the desired credentials, there are several approaches you can take. One option is to utilize the IRS’s directory, which encompasses preparers holding PTINs and IRS-recognized professional credentials. However, it’s important to note that volunteer preparers and those with only PTINs will not be listed in this database.


Another effective method is to seek out tax professionals who are members of reputable professional organizations such as the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or the American Academy of Attorney CPAs. These organizations typically enforce codes of ethics, professional conduct requirements, and offer various certification programs, making membership in them a valuable attribute for a tax pro.


4. Tax preparation fees

Based on a recent survey conducted in 2023, it was found that tax preparers in the United States anticipate charging an average fee of $300 for the preparation of a non itemized Form 1040 in the year 2024. Tax preparers typically have different pricing structures, which may include a minimum fee along with additional charges based on the complexity of your tax return. 


Alternatively, they may charge a fixed fee for each form and schedule required for your return. It is important to be cautious of tax preparers who base their fees on the size of your refund or make promises of obtaining a larger refund than others, as these could be warning signs.


5. Reconsider non-e-filing tax preparers.

The IRS mandates that any paid preparer who completes more than 11 tax returns for clients must electronically file them through the IRS’s e-file system. If your tax preparer does not provide e-file services, it could indicate that they are not engaged in as much tax preparation work as you initially believed.


6. Confirm they’ll sign the required documents to confirm their agreement

Paid preparers are obligated by law to affix their signature on their clients’ tax returns and furnish their PTINs. It is crucial to never sign a blank tax return, as the preparer may insert any information, even their personal bank account number, with the intention of pilfering your refund.


7. Verify if they will support you.

Enrolled agents and CPAs with PTINs possess the authority to act as your representative before the IRS in matters such as audits, payments and collection issues, and appeals. However, preparers who only hold PTINs are unable to do so, even if they were the ones who prepared your tax return. Preparers who have completed the Annual Filing Season Program are only permitted to represent clients in specific situations.


In addition to expertise, availability is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a tax preparer. The best tax preparers will be accessible even after the filing season has ended and your tax return has been submitted. They will promptly respond to your calls, emails, or welcome you for an in-person meeting if necessary.


To schedule an appointment with our Enrolled Agent, please call us at 256-489-1478 or book an online consultation here.