Tax Season is here. Tax Preparers have different levels of skills, education and expertise and Taxpayers ought to take a closer look at what constitutes a “Qualified” Tax Preparer.
There are various types of regulated Tax Preparers, including Certified Public accountants (CPAs), Enrolled Agents, and Attorneys. CPAs, Enrolled Agents and Attorneys are “Qualified” by IRS regulations to represent Taxpayers in front of State and Federal Government.
In addition, there are unregulated Tax Preparers that represent themselves as “Qualified” Tax Preparers. An unregulated Tax Return Preparer is not the same thing as a regulated Tax Preparer.
So, what should a Taxpayer do? Taxpayers should verify Tax Preparer qualifications through the IRS directory which allows Taxpayers to:
- Verify the Tax Preparer’s qualifications. If your Tax Preparer is not in the IRS Directory, walk away.
- Determine if the Tax Preparer has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid tax preparers must have a PTIN. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
- Check the Tax Preparer’s History. CPAs can be checked with the State Board of Accountancy, Attorneys can be checked with the Local State Bar Association and Enrolled Agents can be checked at the IRS website.
Stay out of TROUBLE: Make sure your CPA is asking you the right QUESTIONS regarding Foreign Accounts!
US International tax is complicated. It often overwhelms US Taxpayers. That is why an international tax specialist CPA is the best choice for the work. Nonetheless, many Taxpayers seek the help of tax return preparers without requisite international tax reporting experience. Consequently, the RIGHT QUESTIONS are not asked. There is increasing IRS tax compliance oversight; particularly with International Taxpayers. Everything cross border is of special interest to the IRS and the Department of Justice. Taxpayers sign Tax Returns under penalty of perjury and are responsible for the information in their Return – even if the Return is prepared by someone else. If a Tax Return is inaccurate, the Taxpayer could face an audit, civil penalties, or criminal charges.
Taxpayers should not be victims of their own making and take the time to investigate their Tax Preparer, never sign a Blank Return and review the Return before signing. ©