If a tax preparer promises you a big refund before looking at your financial information then you should go running the opposite direction! No one is guaranteed a refund, and if someone promises otherwise, they are probably going to do something unscrupulous. Use you best instincts to differentiate from real professionals and those trying to use black hat tricks to get leads.
Are They Current?
As you can imagine, you need a lot of training to become a tax preparer. Unfortunately it does not stop there. Each tax season bring a set of newly expired tax laws as well dozens of new deductions, credits, and regulations. Most tax preparers will enroll in some sort of update training before each tax season, but not all. Make sure your tax preparer is up to date on all tax policies.
Above & Beyond
On top of having a year-round specialist, it is also good to have one who will go above and beyond just preparing your return. If the IRS sends you a notice or query, will your tax preparer be able to help you solve the problem or at least recommend you to someone who can? Whenever you are looking for a tax preparer, you always want to know what type of audit protection or assistance they provide.
If you are a business or small business owner, having a business-tax-savvy preparer is a must. There are separate deductions, credits, and guidelines for business owners. In order to take advantage of every business deduction you can and prevent from breaking any rules, you need a highly trained tax professional to help you with these sorts of tax returns. When interviewing a potential prepare, ask if they have other business clients and see if you can get any reviews from said clients in advance.
With modern technology, there is no reason to hire a tax preparer that does not file electronically. It is both faster and more efficient. Perhaps the best advantages of filing electronically is that your return is likely to come much faster, and as soon as your preparer files it, you have proof that it has been filed.
If your tax preparer is well established, it should be no problem finding at least a few reviews on their services online. You can also ask friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers who they chose to prepare their taxes. Some tax preparers even have a list of testimonials from previous clients available in their office or online.
Last but not least, your tax preparer should be eager and willing to know every financial aspect of your life. This means they will not only ask if you have children, but ask their ages, their education levels, whether they are your dependent, and so on. A good tax preparer will ask you dozens upon dozens of questions to get you the best quality of service, which you deserve.