Finding the Right Tax Professional

The following post is from H&R Block, which is one of the largest tax-preparation companies in the country. Remember, this year, you have until Monday, April 18 to file your 2010 taxes!

Like millions of taxpayers this (and every) year, you might be putting off filing taxes because you’re nervous about what you might owe or worried about making a mistake on your return. Asking for help in understanding all the ins and outs of filing your taxes can make the experience less nerve-wracking and overwhelming. Asking for help from H&R Block – one of the most enduring and respected names in the business – can make it almost easy.

Here are some helpful tips from their staff at more than 11,000 offices across the nation to get you started, whatever your personal tax situation might be:

1. Ask about a tax professional’s years of experience and area(s) of specialty. Beware the tax preparer who also sells cars, furniture or other items unrelated to tax return preparation. Sure you might get a screaming deal on your tax prep if you also purchase a washing machine, but does this kind of multi-tasking tax preparer have the knowledge to accurately represent your interests?

2. When it comes to taxes, knowledge can translate into dollars saved. The tax code is always changing, so it’s critical to select a tax professional who receives ongoing training and understands how various tax law changes may affect you. Making sure that whomever you choose has up-to-date training is critical when selecting a tax professional.

3. Know the tax preparer’s area of expertise before allowing them to prepare your taxes. A sick patient wouldn’t see an eye doctor for a head cold and a small business owner shouldn’t consult a tax professional who can’t do small business tax returns.

4. Make sure your tax preparer protects your confidential data. Tax professionals have access to your Social Security number, earnings statements and other private information. Make sure you trust your preparer to review and protect your data.

5. Regardless of who prepares the taxes, the taxpayer is legally responsible for the information on the return. A little research into the best tax professional now can prevent significant financial and legal harm later. Look for a tax professional who guarantees his or her work. Understand what happens if an error is made on your tax return and who is ultimately responsible. Will the accountant pay the resulting penalties and interest or will you be left footing the bill? Seek a reputable tax preparer who won’t hesitate to answer these questions.

6. Stay away from here-today-gone-tomorrow tax preparation services! While taxes are typically prepared January through April, the IRS corresponds with taxpayers throughout the year. So, it’s important to select a tax preparer who’s available year-round. H&R Block prepares taxes year-round. Not only do they understand that every individual and every business is different, they also take responsibility to serve all of those unique needs – whenever they may arise – very seriously.

7. Avoid tax professionals who say they can obtain larger-than-average tax refunds. Refund estimations should be based on deductions and credits taxpayers are legally permitted to claim.

H&R Block has more than 50 years of experience preparing tax returns. Not only do they guarantee their work, they also offer many great services, such as the Second Look Review that allows taxpayers to have their recent tax returns from this year, or even returns prepared up to three years ago by another company, reviewed by an H&R Block tax professional. This review can often find credits and deductions those other tax preparers may have missed and help you make corrections to claim that could lead to a bigger tax refund. You can get a Second Look review for free through March 31.

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