So you’ve decided it’s time to file your taxes, but there’s just one looming issue: You can’t possibly figure out how to prepare these darn things yourself. TurboTax, as user friendly as it is, just isn’t going to help you accurately determine your taxes given all the complicated forms you’ve received in the mail this year. Rest assured, though, because you are not in the minority here. Many people seek the services of a tax professional or volunteer to help prepare their taxes.
Now that you’ve made the big decision to find third party assistance, how do you go about finding useful and relevant tax help? You may be inclined to start your search at Google or maybe even Yelp, but in doing so, you may have to sift through a lot of unrelated ads or instead, you might even get off course and end up finding restaurant recommendations. Although that doesn’t sound too bad……
Bottom line: You’re going to want to tailor your search to help you find a qualified tax professional so you can get your taxes prepared efficiently and effectively.
Luckily, the IRS has the perfect tool for you! The national tax preparer directory is an online directory that allows people to search for tax return preparers with a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) who possess professional credentials, such as Enrolled Agents or Certified Public Accountants and attorneys. In an ongoing effort to ease the burden and hassle of obtaining tax filing resources, the IRS’s directory is intended to make finding the right tax preparer near you easier and safer.
One thing to note is that this online directory shouldn’t be used to search for volunteer tax return preparers who offer free services. The IRS does maintain a separate directory of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. Other organizations offer free tax assistance as well, like the American Association of Retired People (AARP) Tax-Aide service which provides free individualized tax preparation for elderly taxpayers around the nation with the low to moderate income levels. And while there are many more local programs that provide free tax assistance during the busy season, these online directories are among the most widespread.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to hire a professional tax preparer, seek out a volunteer clinic, or prepare your own taxes, it is important to make sure you gather all of your important tax documents together to ensure an accurate reporting of income and expenses. Even if you seek out the services of a professional tax preparer, always be sure to look over your tax returns since you are ultimately responsible for what’s on it. Hopefully, by seeking out a tax professional from one of the directories listed above, you’ll be able to get your tax returns prepared with ease and accuracy.