Getting ready to file your taxes? You might be tempted to figure it out all by yourself. After all, online tax preparation software is fairly cheap and provides the convenience of completing everything from home. But even in fairly uncomplicated tax situations, mistakes on tax returns are common. At best, mistakes with your taxes can reduce the amount of money you get back. At worst, they could put you at higher risk of an IRS audit.

The intricacies of the United States tax system are difficult to navigate for amateurs. Sometimes tax laws change. Sometimes you might not even know what to look for within your personal finances, and you may miss out on deductions and credits that you qualify for.

That’s where an experienced and licensed tax preparer comes in. Consider the following factors that can help you find the best tax preparer for your taxes this year.

Reputation and trustworthiness

A registered tax preparer is worth your time and money only if he or she has a positive reputation in the industry. Start by checking their online presence. Do they have a sophisticated and updated website that demonstrates their industry knowledge? Do they have positive online reviews from previous clients?

Next, ensure that he or she is properly registered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax preparers are required to have an official Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). You can check for these qualifications online through this regularly updated directory provided by the IRS.

Fees and refund options

Of course, it’s important to consider the cost of hiring a tax preparer. Determine your budget, and be willing to compare costs from multiple providers. The more complex your tax situation is, the higher your tax preparation fees will be, so keep this in mind if you have factors such as multiple jobs, unearned income from rental property or other sources, or self-employment income. Ask for quotes before starting any tax preparation work, and make sure you understand what is included in each quote. For example, does the fee include audit protection?

You should also consider how you want to receive your tax refund. Your tax preparer should provide options that allow you to receive your money in a manner that is convenient to you, whether that is direct deposit to your bank account or on a debit card. Some preparers may even offer a cash advance on your refund so you can get your money sooner.

Willingness to answer questions

Tax preparation is a multi-billion dollar industry, which means there are a lot of tax preparers offering their services throughout the country. Make sure your tax preparer truly stands out in their knowledge and understanding of tax preparation. Newer tax providers may be registered but may not have enough experience to handle your financial situation.

It’s a good idea to do some of your own research before speaking with potential tax providers. Come up with some questions that apply to your particular situation and to taxes in general, so that you can get a sense of how knowledgeable they are and how well-equipped they are to get you the maximum refund possible.

Friendliness and dedication

A high-quality tax preparer will clearly have your best interests in mind. If the preparer seems hasty or dismissive, it would be a good idea to look elsewhere. Don’t feel obligated to work with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable or doesn’t take the time to answer your questions!

Taxes can be stressful, but the right tax preparer can make the experience a much more positive one. A qualified, knowledgeable tax preparer will not only ensure that you get the biggest refund possible, they will also be able to provide you with tips for maximizing your deductions and credits in the coming year so that you can take a proactive approach to your financial health. Contact VTax today for a free quote and let our tax pros help you get your maximum tax refund … guaranteed!

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