How to get Tax Help
Who can represent you before the IRS?
Many people use a tax professional to prepare their taxes. Tax professionals with an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) can prepare a return for a fee.
If you choose a tax pro, you should know who can represent you before the IRS. There are new rules this year, so the IRS wants you to know who can represent you and when they can represent you. Choose a tax return preparer wisely.
Unlimited representation rights allow a credentialed tax practitioner to represent you before the IRS on any tax matter. This is true no matter who prepared your return. Credentialed tax professionals who have unlimited representation rights include: Tax Accountants (Enrolled Agents & Certified Public Accountants) and Tax Attorneys.
So how do you pick a Tax Accountant?
You have to ask questions to make sure the Accountant is right for you.
1. How much experience do you have with my type of return? As withany other professional—doctors, lawyers, architects—you want to work with someone who's familiar both with the business in general and with your sort of case in particular. Ask preparers how long they've been doing tax returns and what kinds.
2. How do you determine your fees? Ask for billing and payment terms in writing. Many preparers charge a flat fee based on the complexity of your tax return. Don't work with anyone who wants a percentage of your refund or tells you what the refund will be before looking at your financial information.
3. Have you represented many clients in IRS audits? On the one hand, you want someone who has had enough experience with audits to help you if your return is scrutinized. On the other, you don't want someone who has too much audit history. It may signify someone who claims a lot of questionable deductions.
4. Do you have any professional designations? Preparers who are enrolled agents (EAs) must fulfill continuing-education and licensing requirements and are bound by ethical standards. They're also authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collections and appeals. EAs must pass a comprehensive exam administered by the IRS that covers the broad range of tax issues that affect individuals and businesses and how to represent clients before the IRS.
EAs who are members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) must complete 30 hours of continuing professional education each year to maintain membership in the National Association of Enrolled Agents—more than the IRS licensing requirement of 24 hours a year. EAs are also subject to vigorous background checks before they can be licensed and they're required to abide by U.S. Treasury Department Circular 230.
EAs prepare millions of tax returns every year and are an excellent resource for anyone seeking the latest information on any tax issue. The EA designation is the only professional designation that indicates a person has demonstrated competence specifically in the field of taxation.
For more information contact Accountant Jayson M. Thornton (314)394-8588 www.ThorntonOffice.com