How to Choose Someone to Prepare Your Tax Return

Many taxpayers ask who can prepare tax returns. The simple answer is that anyone can prepare tax returns. However, not everyone can prepare accurate tax returns and not every preparer knows what questions to ask and which tax deductions and tax credits to claim. When it comes time to prepare your tax return, you have a few different options.

  • Prepare the return yourself, either manually or with tax software.
  • Ask a friend who has experience in tax preparation.
  • See if you qualify to have a return prepared by a volunteer organization.
  • Have a paid preparer complete your tax return.

Generally, how you decide depends on your own personal preference. Factors to consider are:

  • How complicated is your return?
  • Do you feel qualified to prepare your own return?
  • Who has completed your return in the past? Are you confident that it was prepared correctly?
  • Are there any significant changes this year?
  • Are you looking for someone to just prepare your return or do you also need an advisor who is familiar with your situation, long-term needs, and can provide tax advice?

If you prefer to use a paid preparer, you also have several options that you should carefully evaluate.

There are a number of different types of paid preparers, who possess different levels of qualifications and capabilities, offering different types of services. Their prices will also vary considerably.  Certain individuals have the qualifications necessary to represent taxpayers before the IRS, but many paid tax preparers do not.

The more complicated your tax situation, the more expertise you need to look for. If in addition to having your tax return prepared, you are also looking for tax advice, or tax planning, you will need to find a person qualified to provide that service.

Your primary concern should be to find a tax preparer who knows taxes, is up-to-date on the latest changes in tax laws, and who is knowledgeable and experienced in your particular needs. You should ask about the preparer’s overall experience, and about experience in the area that concerns you.

Certified Public Accounts are licensed by each individual state to provide accounting, auditing, and tax services to the general public. They must pass the rigorous uniform CPA exam and have experience in public accounting in order to be certified. They must also meet continuing professional education requirements in order to retain their licenses. A licensed CPA in Illinois is required to complete 120 hours — every three years — of continuing professional education, which includes four hours of ethics.

CPAs are authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. A CPA is generally a long term trusted adviser, beyond just preparing an annual tax return.

Maloney & Company would like the opportunity to become your long term trusted adviser. We have a team of CPAs and consultants that are ready to assist you.

Follow us on Social Media