Press Releases

How to Select a Tax Preparer

Helpful Tips from the Louisiana Department of Revenue

April 9, 2009

BATON ROUGE - If you choose to pay someone to prepare your tax return, be selective about whom you hire. Remember that you are legally responsible for the information on your tax return even if it is prepared by someone else, so it is important to select a qualified tax professional.



There are several characteristics to look for when hiring someone to prepare your taxes.



Reputable tax preparers will ask a number of questions to determine the validity of expenses and deductions. They will remind clients to keep careful and complete records in order to substantiate information on the tax return. They will sign all returns that they prepare, and will include their identification information on the return. They will provide clients with copies of completed returns for their records. And they will respond to clients’ requests for information within a reasonable period of time.



Try to find a preparer who you are certain will be available to answer questions after your return is filed. Determine what the preparer’s service fees are before the return is prepared. Avoid tax preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of your refund. Be skeptical of preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers. Review your return and ask questions before signing it.



Other helpful tips for working with a tax preparer include:



  • Ask a prospective tax preparer for professional references
  • Conduct a background check with the Better Business Bureau, the state licensing board for CPAs, or the state bar association for attorneys
  • Always ask question about entries on your return that you don’t understand
  • Insist that the preparer sign the return and provide appropriate taxpayer information
  • Make sure that the IRS has not prohibited the preparer from preparing federal tax returns
  • Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires continuing education and holds its members accountable to a code of ethics
  • NEVER SIGN A BLANK TAX RETURN



If you suspect that a tax preparer is preparing fraudulent returns, call the LDR Criminal Investigation Division’s Tax Fraud Hotline at 1-866-940-7053.