You work hard for your money; you shouldn’t work as hard to ensure that you’re getting all the tax credits and deductions you deserve! A good tax preparer will make all this happen for you. Here are some of the top questions to ask your potential tax preparer in Vancouver, WA.:


What are your credentials?

It’s important to know that you’re working with a qualified professional in Vancouver, WA. While many companies don’t require tax services to have credentials, it’s best to work with someone who has the right expertise, especially when your taxes are more complicated. Ask what areas they specialize in and how long they’ve been in business.


What services are included?

A tax preparer should provide a list of tax services they offer, including e-filing your return and how much it will cost. You’ll also want to know if they provide copies of past returns and estimates for the current year.


How long will you have to wait for your refund?

If you’re scheduling an appointment in advance, find out how many days it will take before receiving your refund. If you’re waiting for a quick turnaround, work with a Vancouver, WA, tax preparation specialist who knows the ropes and is accustomed to dealing with paperwork quickly. Listen carefully as they answer these questions so that you’ll know if you’re comfortable working with them. If you have any doubts, find someone else to help.


Do you have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number)?

Since 2010, everyone who prepares and signs returns in Vancouver, WA, tax and compensation must have a PTIN. You can check the IRS website to see if the preparer has one. It would help if you also asked about their refund anticipation loans (RAL) policy. This is especially important if they’re going to file your return electronically. By law, they cannot promise you an early refund.


What if I owe money?

Discuss your options for paying taxes due or agreeing to an installment agreement with the IRS. Some preparers charge fees for this service, and you must know how they handle such situations in advance.


Can I file electronically?

Electronic filing is faster and easier than paper returns. If you’re eligible, you should go this route to get your refund sooner. Ask if they also will file state taxes electronically. If the preparer doesn’t offer electronic tax filing, ask why. Maybe their software doesn’t support it, or perhaps they don’t feel comfortable filing electronically. In either case, you have to ask yourself if they’re suitable for the job.

If your taxes are relatively straightforward, you can do them yourself or have a friend help as long as the return isn’t more than two pages. If your tax situation is too complicated for you to handle on your own, it’s worth paying someone to do it for you.


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Will I receive a copy of my return after it’s filed with the IRS and other government agencies?

Some preparers in Vancouver, WA, will give you a copy of your return and keep the original. Others require that you retain it at all times. Ask questions so that you fully understand the process. If possible, ask for references from other people who work with them. If someone is willing to provide these references, that’s a good sign. Of course, you’ll want to call their references and talk with them to get their insights into the quality of the tax service they received.


Are you familiar with the requirements of the state(s) I am required to file?

You’ll most likely have to file a state tax return in addition to your federal taxes. Find out how many returns the preparer is familiar with and if you will be charged extra for this tax service.  If you aren’t sure what state(s) you’ll be filing in, ask if they will help you determine where to file. If your income isn’t high enough to require a state return, check with the preparer to determine how that will affect the cost of preparing and e-filing your federal return.


Are you interested in working with me as a long-term customer?

The best preparers want to help you get the maximum refunds possible, even if it means working with you for years to come. Find out how much experience they have in the industry and what kind of success rate they have experienced over time. Preparers in Vancouver, WA, are required to keep your personal and financial information confidential. If you’re not comfortable with the person you’re working with, ask for a few references or additional details on what they do to ensure that your information is safe.


Do you always follow up after my return has been filed?

You want someone who will check in with you after filing your return. They should answer any questions you have about your refund and walk you through what happens next. For example, if they owe you money, will they file an amended return? If not, find out how much time it may take to send in a new version of the tax return without this change.


What are your fees?

Finally, compare the fees that each tax service charges. It’s important to note that not all tax preparers charge the same rates, and you may end up saving quite a bit of money if you choose a Vancouver, WA tax preparation expert who has lower fees. You should find information on how much it will cost to have your taxes prepared using the IRS’s fee calculator. If you’re getting a refund, it’s essential to ask how long you should expect to wait for your money. If the tax preparer can’t give you a clear answer, move on and find someone else who will.


Bottom Line

Ultimately, an accountant may be your best bet if you have complicated returns. However, a professional who knows how to file taxes and is certified can minimize mistakes and help you keep all your tax deductions.

In addition to asking these questions, make sure to visit our website or call us at (360) 213-1040 to learn more about filing your taxes in Vancouver, WA.