With around 25% of Americans unsure of how their taxes are determined and even more taking a long time to do them because they can be complicated, hiring a tax professional has become fairly commonplace.
It's easy to see why. A tax professional has the training and knowledge to figure out your taxes and make sure they're right the first time around.
Sometimes, they can even save you money!
However, when hiring a tax professional, there are some things you should ask to make sure they're the right one for you.
1. How Much Do You Charge?
Perhaps one of the first questions to ask tax companies is how much they charge. You can compare different quotes before choosing a tax professional to go with.
It's important not to automatically go with the cheapest, however, as this may be someone with less experience or who takes less time to go over your taxes. Instead, compare the quotes with the answers to the other questions and decide from there.
2. How Long Will This Take?
One of the most important questions to ask tax experts is how long it will actually take to do your taxes. If you've left it a little close to the deadline, this is especially important!
The last thing you want to do is to be late.
Of course, if you've left it to the day before, you might just have to accept your taxes will be late this year. In general, though, you should make sure your tax professional plans on having your forms all filled out and sent away in a decent amount of time before the deadline.
Some wiggle room never hurts!
3. How Much Experience Do You Have?
When it comes to making sure the tax professional is the best one for you, you can ask how much experience they have. This might be listed on their website, or you might have to ask it as a direct question.
This will reassure you they've been doing this for a while and know what they're doing.
4. Do You Provide Audit Support?
The number of people being audited took a dip in 2020, but that doesn't mean you're completely in the clear. Audits are still conducted when red flags are raised in the system, which could be something you didn't expect.
You should check if the tax professional provides audit support. Some do, some don't, some provide it for an extra charge.
This might be especially important if you're self-employed or filing business taxes, as those are the most likely to be audited by the IRS.
5. Have You Handled Taxes Like Mine?
When it comes to what to ask a tax professional, this question is often forgotten but could not be more important.
Some people have complicated taxes. They have foreign assets or are a dual-status alien, or there's some other complicated situation that throws a bit of a wrench in the works.
No matter how long your tax professional has been in business, you should check they've handled taxes specifically like yours. That way you know that they're aware of the correct forms.
6. What Happens if They're Wrong or Late?
If your tax professional has guaranteed you correct taxes on time, you should ask what happens if they're wrong or late. Will they pay any fines associated with that error?
Remember — at the end of the day, you sign the tax form and it's your name on the line. You will be penalized for mistakes, not the tax expert, so it's essential to get some sort of reassurance here.
7. How Do You Stay In Contact?
Throughout the process of preparing your taxes, it's likely that the professional will need to contact you with questions — or you might want to get in touch with them for an update.
You should make sure you know their preferred method and have a phone number or e-mail for them — whichever they prefer.
Their contact method might matter to you too if you have a strong preference one way or another.
8. What Happens if There's Something You Don't Know?
It's also important to ask what they'll do if a situation pops up where they simply don't know the answer.
It's okay for your tax professional to encounter something new — everyone does at some point! However, you should make sure they have people around them that can give them advice or that they'll call the IRS and double-check the rules.
The last thing you want a tax expert to do is simply start guessing if they come across a part of your taxes where they aren't sure. This can happen often since the rules and laws are constantly changing.
9. How Do They Get Sent Off?
Most taxes will be sent off electronically by your tax preparer after you provide a signature. However, some tax situations are complicated and require you to sign the papers and physically mail them off to the IRS.
Make sure you're familiar with the process required for yours and account for the time it might take you to mail your form off. Remember, however, you're still counted as meeting the deadline if you send the forms in time, regardless of when the IRS get to processing them.
Ask Any Tax Professional These Questions
If you ask a tax professional all of these questions, you can be rest assured you've picked the right one for you. Make sure they're familiar with your tax situation, charge a reasonable amount, and most importantly, make sure you're also familiar with the process.
For a tax professional you can trust in Durham, North Carolina, contact us today.