Qualities You Should Look for in a Tax Preparation Company

Qualities You Should Look for in a Tax Preparation Company

Tax season is stressful—with all of the document-keeping, number-crunching, and data-collecting, it’s truly no wonder why so many shy away from the process until the absolute last minute. Doing this, however, can leave you in quite a pickle with the IRS. No matter who you are or how you file, there’s one thing everyone can probably all agree on: filing taxes (accurately and efficiently) takes a special type of person. 
It’s these very unique qualities that you should take into consideration when searching for a high-quality tax preparation company. In addition to being knowledgeable about current tax codes and regulations, your choice tax prep company should have a keen sense of organization, attention to detail, and interpersonal communication.
A good tax preparation company should function as more than just a personal accountant—they should also step in as a specialized advisor. With so many tax prep companies out there, figuring out which is the best for you and your filing needs takes a careful and calculated process. We’re here to guide you through the qualities to look for to set yourself up for tax season success.

Why You Might Want to Hire a Tax Company

Before we dive into the shining characteristics you should look for in a good tax preparation company, let’s first clarify why hiring a tax preparer may be in your best interests.
There are a variety of reasons why adding a professional tax prepare into the mix is a smart idea for your finances. By outsourcing the heavy lifting, you can:
  • Stressless about complicated tax laws and obligations
  • They likely have well-vetted, highly qualified employees
  • Reduce the risk of costly mistakes
  • Effectively eliminate the chance of an audit
  • Save money on tax preparation software
  • Take advantage of qualifying tax loopholes
Ultimately, tax professionals are far better equipped with the knowledge, software, and expertise to handle your taxes and provide the highest possible savings. No need to worry about the risk of erroneous mistakes that could lead to an audit with an expert filer backing your return.

What Qualities to Look for in a Tax Preparation Company

Make sure these 10 qualities are on your checklist as you search through the sea of tax preparation companies.

1. Well-Rounded Expertise

Just because someone’s technical title is a “tax prepare” doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the right person to do your taxes. If you’re simply filing individual taxes, you’ll likely find it easier to find a suitable tax prep company to take on your load, but if you have any business taxes, you’ll need a professional who understands the complex ins and outs of business-specific tax code. Because business tax code is always changing, it pays to hire a company that is up to date and in-tune with the changing tides of American tax laws.

2. Star-Studded History

A good tax preparation company has a shining reputation and a history of happy clients to serve as proof. To check how well your tax prepares services have been received, look for online reviews from real clients. You may even consider checking the IRS’ Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. Anyone with an officially registered Prepares Tax Identification Number is legally qualified to prepare a tax return for a client, so if a prep company you’re interested in can not provide this number, take it as a red flag.

3. Impeccable Organizational Skills

Filing taxes requires a lot of moving parts and well-kempt documentation. In order to streamline your filing process for the utmost efficiency, hire a tax preparation company that is lauded for their exceptional organizational skills. If you’re able, take a visit to the company or prepares the office for an in-person meeting to see how your sensitive documents are stored and treated. In the case that you’re welcomed to a space overflowing with paperwork, that’s fair cause for concern. An organized and accurate tax return is a sure guarantee from organized and precise tax preparation.

4. Acute Attention to Detail

One of the most widely dreaded elements of tax filing is all of the nitty-gritty information that can be easily overlooked when filling out your return. Your choice tax preparation company should have a reputation of being accurate, organized, and detail-oriented so you can take confidence in knowing that no detail is left behind or unrecorded.

5. Excellent Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Your tax preparation doesn’t have to be your best friend, but you should have an amicable connection with the professional you choose. Since they’ll be responsible for doing some pretty important work, you’ll want to make sure your prepare is good at communicating so nothing ever gets lost in translation. 

6. Fearless Honesty

Though this may seem like a no-brainier quality to look for, it’s an incredibly important one to make note of. A tax prepare has a transparent look into how you manage your money. With such detailed insight into such personal information, you want to be able to trust that your preparation is setting you up for success. 

However in the event that you’ve made some dicey moves over the course of the year that could look fishy to the IRS, you’ll want a prepare who will have an honest conversation with you rather than getting tangled in a complex web of uncertainty.

7. Ability to Represent You in an Audit

No taxpayer wants to get audited, and you've livelily outsourced your filing to a professional to avoid that possibility altogether—however, in the event that you do find yourself subject to an IRS audit, you’ll want to make sure your prepare will be able to represent you and clear everything up. There are a few necessary credentials a prepare will need in order to be eligible for representation.
There are three types of tax professionals who can legally represent you in the event of an IRS audit: a certified public accountant (CPA), an enrolled agent (EA), and an attorney. To ensure you’ve covered your bases even in the event of an unexpected audit, hire one of these tax pros for your filing duties.

8. Stellar Affiliations

An important part of your search for a good tax preparation company is reviewing the licensing, credentials, experience, and degrees of your potential tax preparation. A good way to get a feel for their level of expertise is by taking a look at their affiliations. 

Companies that belong to the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the American Academy of Attorney CPA are well qualified for the job as each of these memberships carry strict high-level requirements. If you’re unable to find any affiliations online, don’t hesitate to call and ask the company you’re interested in.
Additionally, a good tax preparation company will have great affiliations in terms of companies and products they work with. Ask what kind of software they use to ensure it meets the industry standards. It’s better to go with a tax preparation company that uses a well-known professional product such as ProSeries, rather than an in-house tax software that may not integrate with state and national databases.

9. An Expressed Interest in You

Even though filing taxes doesn’t feel like a personal experience, it is important for you and your preparation to be on the same page—and to get there, they should take an expressed interest in you and the job you’re asking them to do. After all, you are paying them the big bucks to square away your tax obligations, at the very least they should treat you and your money with care. Any preparation that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to do taxes is one to steer clear of. Getting the most out of your return takes time, and you deserve a prepare that will go above and beyond for you. 

10. Transparency

Though often overlooked, transparency is an especially important quality to look for in a tax preparation company. If you’re like most people, you feel extremely protective of your personal finances, and sharing all of that information with a total stranger can feel intimidating. Having a genuine sense of transparency with your preparation is essential for your mental well being and confidence in your chosen preparation. You should feel comfortable talking to your preparation about anything, and they should be upfront about any concerns or questions they may have for you.

Author Bio:
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.

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