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5 Tips to Find a Tax Professional For Your Personal Taxes

Posted on March 2, 2017 in General

Each year tax laws change, and a new set of challenges must be faced to successfully comply with tax requirements. There are three main types of tax professionals a person can choose to help them meet their tax filing requirements:

  • An enrolled agent– This is a person who has a license from the IRS. They are required to pass a three-part Special Enrollment Examination. Every three years they must complete 72 hours of training.
  • A certified public accountant– This individual is licensed by a state board of accountancy, which requires them to have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. They must have a degree in accounting and they must also meet good character requirements.
  • Attorneys– While this may not be a common route for most San Diegans looking to get their taxes done, there are attorneys who have also met the requirements to be a CPA.

Tip 1 – A Referral From Your Personal Network

One of the best ways to find a tax professional is to ask individuals in your network for a referral. This could be friends, family or businesses where a person has an established relationship with a reliable tax professional in San Diego. Some people have had success asking for referrals from individuals they are friends with on social media as well. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) provides a directory of CPAs who have earned the designation of financial specialists. The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) can provide information about enrolled agents who are available to prepare taxes. The American Academy of Attorney-CPAs (AAAC) also provides access to their membership for those seeking their services. We also recommend asking other professional service providers you work with like a San Diego attorney such as Walker Law.

Tip 2 – Research Online Review Sites

It’s safe to say the majority of individuals who provide tax preparation services in San Diego are honest and do great work given the high bar set by state boards and government. Unfortunately, there are some that do not. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted an investigation and discovered that only two of every 19 individuals who prepared taxes were able to provide the correct calculation for a refund. It is strongly recommended to do your research about the tax professional before committing to an engagement with them. Websites such as Yelp, Google, and even Facebook provide star rating systems and written reviews from clients. These websites are great places to find social and legitimate proof that your San Diego tax professional is a great candidate to work with.

Tip 3 – Find A Tax Accountant You Have Compatibility With

Nothing is more frustrating than for an individual to try and communicate something to a person doing their taxes, and the tax professional doesn’t seem to understand or accept what their client is telling them. It’s possible for a tax professional to be a very qualified person with experience, licenses and still not be a good fit for your needs. It’s important for an individual to choose a tax professional who makes them comfortable. A person will get a good sense of what it will be like to work with a particular tax professional during an initial interview. This is the time to ask important questions and get a sense of the tax professional’s style and philosophy. It’s acceptable to ask hypothetical questions about tax situations and think about their response. It’s also good to find out the experience a tax professional has when it comes to handling different types of tax situations.

Tip 4 – Make Sure They Offer Audit Representation

It is important to know if a San Diego tax professional is able to represent a person should they be audited by a taxing authority. A low-level tax preparer will seldom have their clients audited. This is usually because their returns are very simple. Those who work with small businesses may be audited more often. A person should learn what type of representation the tax professional will provide during an audit and if there would be a cost for such representation. It’s also important to know what previous experience the tax professional has in representing their clients during an audit.

Tip 5 – Understand All The Fees

It’s important when choosing a tax professional to know their fee structure. Some will charge an hourly rate. Others will charge a fee for the tax preparation and charge for each tax form that must be completed. Depending on the situation, some tax professionals will charge one fee for everything involved with filing taxes. According to the National Society of Accountants, to prepare a form 1040 with a Schedule A and a state tax return is usually less than $300. It advised that individuals contact the tax professional they are considering for tax preparation and make an appointment to discuss their individual tax needs. This meeting should be free, and if a tax professional wants to charge for such a meeting, they may not be a good choice. Once a person has had a number of meetings with different tax professionals, they need to compare fees.

Conclusion About Finding A Tax Professional In San Diego

Choosing a tax professional to help with your personal taxes is a big decision. Once a person has put the time and effort into choosing a tax professional, they need to feel confident that aspect of their life is being properly handled. When a tax professional and their clients work well together, they can develop a positive long-term relationship that lasts many years.

If you have any questions or would like a recommendation on a tax professional, please send as an email. We will do our best to provide you with a recommendation that fits your specific situation.

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