With individual income tax season just around the corner, the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) wants to help Hoosiers feel confident in who they partner with to prepare and submit their tax returns.
“Paying for professional services to prepare a tax return is a very common practice and can help many Hoosiers during tax season,” advised DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “There are many tax professionals that will provide quality advice and service. Taking a few simple steps will help you hire one who will serve you well.”
DOR offers several tips on choosing a tax preparer:
• Confirm the preparer’s service fee before the return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fee on the expected refund amount.
• Ask the preparer for references and check their professional credentials. Ask friends or family who have previously used the preparer if they were satisfied with the services provided.
• Check to see if the preparer has any complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association for attorneys.
• Research to see if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that holds members accountable to a code of ethics and requires members to pursue continuing education.
• Ask if the preparer has a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has been required to file federal tax returns since 2011.
• Avoid any preparer who makes overly optimistic claims about obtaining a larger refund over other preparers, especially if they have not fully reviewed your tax documents.
• Take time to fully review all documents and ask questions before signing the return. Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign blank tax forms. Remember, the individual whose name is on the tax return is who is legally responsible for what is included, even if the return is prepared or completed by a third-party.
• Use a tax professional who provides a copy of the completed return to the you for your records.
“A reputable tax preparer will ask multiple questions to determine which deductions or credits you may qualify for, and instruct you to keep careful and complete records to confirm the information contained on your tax return,” added Commissioner Grennes. “They will also sign the return with their PTIN.”
Several professional organizations can help Hoosiers find quality and qualified tax preparers. Find a list of organizations on DOR’s website at dor.in.gov/individual-income-taxes/filing-my-taxes/find-a-professional-tax-preparer/.