A tax professional is someone with the proper knowledge, qualifications, and hands on experience to help you with your tax return preparation. A tax professional keeps up to date with new tax laws, regulations, and rules, which have a large impact on how you get back or owe your tax money and can change each year. It is important for you to use a tax professional that has years of experience dealing with a variety of tax situations.
When you are looking for a tax professional to help you with your tax preparer credentials, make sure to check out references. If the professional has never worked with you before, you need to know how experienced they are with your type of tax return. You also want to make sure that they are the right kind of professionals for your needs because there are different kinds of returns. Some tax preparers handle only income tax and others specialize in estate planning, for example.
There are many ways for tax professionals to obtain credentials. One way is to go through a college or a university and earn a degree. Others choose to earn an associate degree, then pursue certifications through trade schools or through licensing boards. The first step you will want to take, before you consider hiring a tax professional, is to ask your state tax agency for a list of qualified professionals. This will give you a list of people with whom you can interview and decide if you want to hire them or not. You can also go online to find out what certifications different individuals hold.
Another way for you to become familiar with tax codes within your state is to read every year’s tax code and keep a running tab of changes. This will allow you to do your taxes every year correctly, so you don’t have to pay any surprises come tax time. Some tax professionals will email you every year’s tax code or will send you paper copies. In this case, it may be wise to visit your state tax office personally, so you can make sure your professional tax preparer is updated on the current laws.
Some tax professionals also offer services that include allowing you to download your tax return preparer onto your computer, so you can print off your tax return anytime. There are also some modernized e-file programs that can be used by virtually anyone. However, most modernized e-file programs will allow only licensed CPAs to access and manipulate the information contained on the forms. Certified public accountants are the only professionals that are authorized to use modernized e-file programs, because they are educated in the ins and outs of the tax code.
Becoming a tax professional doesn’t have to be costly. There are plenty of affordable options available for taxpayers who need help preparing their federal and state income taxes. Most CPAs charge a flat fee for all their services, regardless of the number of clients they serve. When you consider how many clients a tax professional can usually service, you’ll see that it’s usually a very small price to pay to become a trusted advisor to your tax return filing clients.