Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Tax Preparer in 2021

BBB Consumer Alerts

Various pages of the US IRS tax return forms with business tools

Tax season is here once again, but don’t rush to the nearest tax preparer before doing your homework. To make sure you’re working with a reputable tax preparer, it’s a good idea to check their complaint and review history at bbb.org. Check licensure status through the state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants; the state bar associations for attorneys; and the IRS Office of Enrollment for enrolled agents.

Don’t fall for a “Ghost” preparer. According to the IRS, “a ghost preparer does not sign a tax return they prepare. Unscrupulous ghost preparers will print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. For e-filed returns, the ghost will prepare but refuse to digitally sign as the paid preparer.”

Before turning over your most sensitive financial documents to a tax preparer, take time to interview them first. Here are 10 questions to ask:

  1. Are you a Registered Tax Return Preparer? CPA? Enrolled Agent?
  2. Do you have an IRS-issued Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?
  3. What is the service fee? Is it a flat rate or based on the refund amount?
  4. If I receive a refund, where will it be deposited? – It should never be deposited into the tax preparer’s account.
  5. Does the tax preparer offer electronic filing?
  6. Once tax season is over, will this office remain open should there be a problem with my tax return?
  7. What documents will you need to prepare my taxes? Watch out for a tax preparer who is willing to file your taxes without looking at your W-2. Doing so is against IRS regulations.
  8. When will I be able to review and sign my tax return? Never sign a blank return
  9. Will you also sign my tax form, once complete? Make sure the tax preparer also signs it and includes their PTIN.
  10. Will I get to review my completed return? Always review your tax return for accuracy before it is filed.

Check out Need Someone to Prepare Your Tax Return? for more information.

To find a business you can trust, check out BBB.org. To report a scam, go to  BBB.org/ScamTracker.

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