Doing your taxes can seem like a challenging task if you don’t have experience preparing tax returns. While you can certainly try to do your own taxes, for many people, it makes sense to hire an experienced income tax preparer to ensure your return is done correctly and you are getting all the deductions and credits you deserve. However, with so many tax preparation options available, it can be difficult to know how to find the best tax preparer for your needs.
Finding a trustworthy and qualified preparer is important because they will have access to your personal and financial information when filing your return. You want to make sure you hire someone who has your best interests in mind and will protect your private details.
In this blog post, we will provide some tips on how to search for and evaluate potential income tax preparers so you can find a qualified and reputable “tax expert” in New Jersey that you can trust with your information.
Quick Tips to Find Reliable Tax Prep
Here are some top tips to help you find a qualified tax prepare professional in New Jersey:
Ask for Referrals
One of the best ways to find a trustworthy tax preparer is to get referrals from people you know and trust – like your friends, family, coworkers, or other acquaintances. Ask them who they use to prepare their taxes and if they would recommend their tax preparer.
Getting a recommendation from someone who has used a preparer before is better than just randomly selecting one from an online listing or advertisement. The people referring tax preparers to you likely used them successfully in the past and can vouch for their skills, reliability, and customer service.
Check Credentials and Certifications
In addition to referrals, it’s important to verify that any tax preparers you are considering have the proper credentials and certifications. At a minimum, the preparer should be a Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) with the IRS. This means they have passed a competency test to ensure they understand tax code basics. Even better is if the preparer has a certification from a tax professional organization like the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP).
Certified tax consultants like Accredited Tax Advisor (ATA) or Accredited Tax Preparer (ATP) designations from NATP have to pass even more rigorous certification exams to prove their mastery of tax regulations. Choosing a preparer with credentials helps ensure they have the expertise to handle your tax return correctly.
Check for Experience
How much experience does a potential tax prep have? While new preparers can still do a good job, more experience generally means the preparer has dealt with a wider variety of tax scenarios over time. Ask how long they have been in business and approximately how many clients return they prepare each tax season.
Tax laws change frequently, so experienced preparers stay up to date on the latest regulations through continuing education requirements. They may also have extra insights on deductions, credits, and strategies that could save clients money from preparing many returns over the years.
Consider looking for preparers with at least 3-5 years of experience preparing individual income tax returns.
Review Services Offered
Look for a tax preparer that specializes in and has experience with your specific tax needs. The tax preparation of personal tax returns may be different than business returns. Make sure a potential preparer offers the type of tax preparation services you require, such as assistance with:
- Individual tax returns (Form 1040)
- Small business tax returns
- Rental property tax issues
- Itemized deductions
- Audit representation
- Bookkeeping or payroll services
- Prior year late filings
- Installment payment plans with the IRS
Ask about additional services offered as well to make sure your preparer can answer any additional tax questions that come up year-round.
Check Fees and Payment Options
Most tax prep charges a flat fee for basic individual tax return preparation. However, fees may vary depending on the complexity of the return. Discuss fees upfront and make sure there are no surprises. Reputable preparers clearly post their fees online or will provide an estimate before doing any work. Some may charge additional fees for business returns, rental property returns, or support like audit representation.
Also, consider payment options – can you pay by cash, check, or credit card? Does the preparer offer payment plans, or can fees be paid from your tax refund? Payment plans allow you to spread costs over installments.
Visit Their Office and Website
Schedule a visit to a prospective preparer’s office, if possible, to check their operations. Look for indicators they are organized, have sufficient staffing, and make clients a priority.
A highly visited, disorganized office could be a red flag. Also, inspect their website to see how professional, user-friendly, and informative it is. An informative site with clear explanations of services, expertise, testimonials, and digital payment options shows the preparer invests in transparency and serving clients online as well as in person.
You can also check sites like Yelp or Google for any positive or negative reviews from past clients.
Check Professional Memberships
Reputable preparers often maintain active memberships with tax professional organizations like the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) or the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA). These memberships show ongoing commitment to tax education, best practices, and continuous learning. They have to meet requirements and adhere to strict ethical standards set by such organizations.
You can check a tax consultant’s site or ask them about memberships they hold to validate their dedication to the field.
Trust Your Instincts
When interviewing potential preparers, pay attention to your impressions of their knowledgeability, personalities, attitudes, and communication styles.
Can you easily understand their explanations? Do they take the time to answer all your questions? If you feel a preparer might be cutting corners, over-promising, or making you feel uneasy for any reason, trust your instincts and continue searching.
The right fit finds a preparer you develop rapport with and feel you can fully rely on for accurate, ethical tax guidance not just this year but for years to come.
Searching for a Tax Experts?
If you’ve been searching for reputable and experienced tax preparation services near your location in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware, then Computax Services LLC is an excellent option to consider. We have over 25 years of experience helping both individual and business taxpayers with all of their filing needs.
Computax Services is a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, so you can trust that their preparers have the expertise needed to handle even complex tax scenarios. Reach out now.
Taking the time to select an experienced income tax consultant carefully can save you money and stress in the long run. While doing your own taxes may seem cost-effective, missing out on potential deductions or making mistakes can end up costing you significantly more.
Rather than dread tax time each year, why not start your next filing season off on the right foot? Schedule a consultation with Computax today to review your unique situation and discuss how they can simplify the filing process for you.
So don’t delay – contact us now and feel confident knowing your taxes are in reliable, experienced hands.