Examples of How You can be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish and in that piece, he mentioned the value of a hiring a CPA or tax specialist. And I'm moving in that direction.
Therefore, the following 10 Tips for Selecting a Tax Specialist (from a member of an an accounting industry trade group) caught my attention:
"Step 1: Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. Then interview one or two candidates; look for someone who's been preparing returns long enough to anticipate problems or IRS challenges.
Step 2: Be sure to mention any special circumstances, such as a recent divorce or a large lump-sum payment from a retirement plan.
Step 3: If you think your return will be audited, ask if the preparer will represent you before the IRS.
Step 4: Find out whether the preparer will handle your return personally or delegate it to a less-experienced associate.
Step 5: Ask for an estimate of the fee before the return is prepared.
Step 6: Select an individual who will be available if you have questions months, or even years, after your tax return has been filed.
Step 7: Avoid any tax practitioner who claims that he or she can get you a larger tax refund than other practitioners, or whose fees are based on a percentage of your refund.
Step 8: If your tax situation is complex, consider hiring a certified public accountant (CPA) who concentrates on tax work to prepare your return. Take the tax package you receive in the mail to the practitioner so he or she can use your forms and peel-off identity label.
Step 9: Be sure that your preparer signs your return. You should receive a copy of the completed return. Never sign a blank tax return. Be sure you are satisfied with the prepared return. It is still your tax return and you are responsible for its contents.
Step 10: Do additional research: Check out the free AICPA Web site: www.360financialliteracy.org for additional information on this topic as well as other articles, calculators and tools you can use on this topic or other personal finance issues."
Michael Eisenberg, CPA/Personal Financial Specialist and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.AICPA.org) Financial Literacy Commission member.
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