We all pay taxes and we could probably all benefit from some professional guidance when it comes to filing our tax returns. There are many different people out there who claim to be tax professionals, so you may not know how to find the right person for you. Here are some helpful hints for choosing a tax accountant.

Know Your Situation

People go to tax accountants for many different reasons. Here are some of the common situations that motivate taxpayers to use a tax accountant:

  1. You don’t have time to prepare your own taxes.
  2. You feel confused or anxious about preparing your taxes yourself.
  3. Your particular tax situation is complicated.
  4. You want to pay as little as necessary, and you could use some advice on how to plan accordingly.
  5. You have a problem. This could mean that you are late in filing your taxes, you need to pay off a tax debt, or you are being audited by the IRS.
  6. You run a business.
  7. You own stocks or rental properties.
  8. You live outside of the United States.

If you are in any of these situations, you could benefit from the professional help of a tax accountant.

How to Find a Tax Accountant

These tips can help you to choose a reliable, experienced tax accountant to assist you.

  1. Ask someone you trust for a recommendation. This could be a friend, colleague, family member, or financial advisor. If you have a unique tax situation, try to ask someone whose situation is similar to yours for their recommendation for a tax accountant. This will help you to find a tax accountant who has experience in dealing with situations like yours.
  2. If the tax accountant tries to tell you something that seems a little shady – like that you can claim big deductions or get a huge refund – don’t be afraid to question their advice or go elsewhere. In the eyes of the IRS, responsibility for the information on your tax return lies with you, the taxpayer. If you feel uncomfortable with your tax accountant for any reason, feel free to take your business somewhere else.
  3. Know the different types of tax preparers.
    • Chain tax services, like Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block, typically employ tax preparers, who have limited training and education in filing taxes. For basic tax returns, a tax preparer can provide competent service. A senior tax preparer has the same level of training and education as a tax preparer, but has more hands-on experience.
    • An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a professional who has successfully completed testing and background checks administered by the IRS. An Enrolled Agent is a good choice for a complicated tax situation.
    • A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accountant who has passed the CPA exam and gained licensure by their state. CPAs typically specialize in a particular area, and not all CPAs handle taxes.
    • A tax attorney is a lawyer who specializes in handling tax issues. All attorneys must have a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, and many tax attorneys also have a Master of Law in Taxation (LL.M.), too. If you have a complex tax situation, like estate taxes, or if your case is being brought before the U.S. Tax Court, you could benefit from the services of a tax attorney.

This information can help you to choose the best tax accountant for your situation. If you need professional advice on how to handle taxes or other business matters, contact Acceler8. We provide small businesses with advice on a variety of matters, including taxes.