In response to the article in Dayton Daily News, Sunday, January 19,2014, “Tax Preparation industry ‘wild, wild West’” the taxpayer should beware. Too often free tax preparation services means loss of returns or hidden fees. The article addresses something all taxpayers should remember: Buyer Beware. You need a reputable and reliable service that is not one who only opens during tax season. These types of operations, in many cases operate only during the tax filing season, and then close their doors until the following tax filing season. Often times with entirely new personnel than from the previous year. Taxpayers that have an issue come up after the filing season is over are often forced to seek help from more stable tax preparation providers, if the office that prepared the original return is closed, thereby incurring added expense.
The tax industry needs to be regulated. Your tax preparer, a competent professional, must stay abreast of the changes and rulings by various taxing agencies throughout the year to be able to best serve their clients. It is not an industry where the rules stay the same. Receiving one week of training and passing a competency test is simply not good enough. The regulations and rules are constantly changing, and you want a tax accountant that is in tune with the changes.
A responsible tax professional, by also signing the return, takes on a certain level of professional responsibility as well. Paid preparers are subject to a whole list of potential penalties and sanctions by the Internal Revenue Service and state licensing boards if professional standards are not followed.
Filers should ask for a set of questions before hiring a tax preparer, such as:
• How long have you been in business?
• What training and qualifications do your employees have?
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Another warning or a red flag: Beware of companies that promise you more money than if you sent somewhere else. All credible preparers should get the same results.
In the end the taxpayer is responsible, but a reputable and responsible tax preparer is what you want. Let the Buyer Beware.