Some people feel competent to prepare their own returns. Many purchase software to assist in the ordeal. But for others who don’t want to be bothered keeping up with the ever-changing tax laws there are several options.
A. Go to a large company store ( you know — the ones that advertize Jan through April). Often expensive, and only as good as the person who actually prepares your return.
B. Have your return prepared by a local bookkeeping company.
C. See if your neighbor would like to tackle the task for you.
With these first three options, make sure the person is willing to sign the return, that YOU understand the return prior to signing it yourself, and that the person preparing the return takes continuing education yearly. It’s important to feel comfortable with your preparer’s expertise.
D. TAX attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents are all required to take continuing education yearly to maintain their individual licenses. All will likely charge you more than your neighbor; some could charge less than those company stores. Check out their fees and services, consider arranging for an interview prior to having your return completed.
It’s important that you feel comfortable with your preparer, with her/his expertise, personality and services. Enrolled Agents will continually update their skills. Their expertise is in taxation, not bookkeeping, not general law. And if, heaven forbid, you need assistance with the IRS, that can be handled as well.
“Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before.”