In addition, I wanted to discuss IRS tax return preparers that I will identify as “others.” This would include enrolled agents, bookkeepers, and national tax preparation chains. Let us be clear from the outset: I know several of these individuals who are excellent and who I would trust with my own return (if the need for someone else to prepare my return ever arose). These people often make a great living or have a decent side business from preparing returns and are quite knowledgeable. Experience is the number one thing to look for when choosing an IRS tax return preparer.
However, I will say that many of these individuals do lack a formal tax education, which is something that I feel has been invaluable to my own tax return preparation practice. For example, because I have a strong grounding in tax law, I am usually intimately familiar with the ins and outs of most common deductions. As such, I feel that when I take a position on a tax return that it will certainly hold up to the IRS standards for tax return preparers. Some of these individuals may may be more prone to mistakes or may make careless errors that would significantly increase your bottom line tax liability. Make sure you get someone that you trust and do diligence when selecting an IRS tax return preparer.
To conclude, I want to give you an additional word of caution. Through my experience as an attorney, I have run into multiple instances of people who were victimized by unscrupulous tax preparers. These preparers pray on those who have limited knowledge of tax and often promise or deliver results that almost appear too good to be true. They usually are. I have had clients ranging from single families earning below the poverty line to CEOs earning multiple millions of dollars per year. Rich or poor, no particular group of people is immune to bad tax advice. People trust their group of experts and cling to what these people tell them, even going against their own instincts or ignoring what is reasonable.
The good news is that the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS is cracking down on these individuals and sending a strong message through prosecutions. The bad news is that when these individuals are caught, the returns that they prepared will almost certainly get audited. This leaves the taxpayer to pay the real obligation in addition to penalties and interest. Please do not allow yourself to be victimized.
If you have any questions regarding choosing a preparer or if I can assist you with anything further, please contact me using the information contained on this website.