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How To Find A Tax Preparer You Can Trust

Stephen Fishman
Tax expert and contributor MileIQ

Finding a tax preparer you can trust doesn't have to be that hard. Here are some key tips to follow.

How to Find A Tax Preparer Through The IRS

About 60 percent of a taxpayer hire a tax professional to prepare their returns. To help with this, the IRS offer an online directory of tax return preparers who hold a professional credential recognized by the IRS.  These are attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents. This will also have those who completed the requirements for the voluntary IRS filing season program. All preparers listed also have valid Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTIN). This is an identification number that all paid tax return preparers must use on federal tax returns filed with the IRS.

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The IRS directory doesn't include tax preparers who are not attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents, or Annual Filing Season Program participants; nor are volunteer tax return preparers who offer free services. This eliminates 600,000 to 700,000 of the 1.2 million tax preparers in the United States.  Preparers who lack the credentials to be included in the directory generally lack the expertise to prepare business tax returns.  Inclusion in the directory does not constitute an endorsement of the person by the IRS. Also, someone on this directory doesn't necessarily mean that he or she will be willing to prepare your return. It also doesn't mean that they'll do it for the price you'd prefer.

What Should I Do With This IRS List?

Find several names when you do your search, just in case. You can search the directory by preferred credential or by location. You can even filter by tax pros who have practiced abroad or for those who know international tax issues.

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