Taxpayers should ask these questions when hiring tax preparers

Business News | 19 Feb |

The Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) says taxpayers need to be mindful when selecting their tax preparers or hiring tax preparers this tax season, because they are ultimately responsible for what is filed, regardless of who prepared the return.

Taxpayer responsibilities:

• Ensure the tax preparer provides you with a copy of the entire return.

• Insist the preparer provides copies of all schedules, especially if there are itemized deductions or credits.

• Ask the preparer to explain the return, including deductions, credits and wages claimed.

• Review the tax return before submitting to ensure numbers are correct and schedules add up to source documents provided to the tax preparer.

• Ask the preparer to sign the return and list their preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

• Know preparers are prohibited from charging a percentage of a taxpayer’s refund as their fee.

The IRS says roughly 60 percent of tax filers used tax preparation services in 2019. While the majority are professional and qualified, there are cases where tax preparers have submitted fraudulent returns or promised larger tax refunds by making unwarranted changes to the tax return.

Some key questions to ask when hiring tax preparers:

• What kind of formal training does the preparer have and how current is the training?

• Does the preparer hold any licenses or designations? These include: accredited tax preparer (ATP), accredited tax advisor (ATA), certified public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent (EA) or registered accounting practitioner (RAP).

• How long has the preparer been doing tax returns?

• Does the preparer offer e-file services?

• Is the preparer available year-round?

• Will the preparer explain how the return was prepared in the event of an examination by ADOR or the IRS?

• Did the preparer explain charges for services in advance?

• Does the preparer provide copies of complete returns to clients? 

ADOR recommends taxpayers with questions contact the department’s Identity Theft Call Center at (602) 716-6300, toll-free: 844-817-9691 or: https://azdor.gov/individual-income-tax-information/identity-theft.

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