Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Here is some advice on what not to do when looking for a tax professional-

* Do not use a tax preparer who guarantees you a bigger refund, or who guarantees a refund period. No tax preparer anywhere can guarantee you a refund if your individual facts and circumstances - your actual numbers - do not warrant a refund, unless he/she makes up deductions or exemptions or purposely does not report all your income. Either way that is tax fraud! The only claim or guarantee any legitimate tax preparer can make is that by using his/her services you will pay the absolute least amount of federal and state income taxes possible for your individual situation.

* Do not use a tax preparer who charges as his/her fee a percentage of your refund or of the amount of tax he/she has saved you. Chances are the person will illegally inflate your refund or savings to increase his/her fee. The fee for preparing a tax return should be based solely on the amount of time involved and/or the number of forms and schedules required.

* Do not use a tax preparer solely for the reason that he/she tells you that you can walk out of the office with a check in your hand. That person or firm is not selling competent and accurate tax preparation – they are selling usurious Refund Anticipation Loans, which you should avoid anyway. You want to use a tax preparer that is experienced and knowledgeable in tax law and not a loan shark.

* Do not use a tax preparer who will not sign your finished returns. All tax preparers are required by the IRS to sign all tax returns which they have been paid to prepare. If a person prepares your return and refuses to sign it you should refuse to pay him/her and take your “stuff” elsewhere.

* Do not use a “box” as a substitute for a tax preparer. I know I have said it before, but I cannot stress this strongly enough - no tax preparation software is a substitute for knowledge of the Tax Code. And no tax preparation software is a substitute for the services of a trained tax professional! As with any software program the rule is “garbage in - garbage out”. And when the IRS comes after you for errors on your tax return you can’t blame it on the software - the US Tax Court has on two separate occasions rejected the “Turbo-Tax Defense”.
The IRS estimates that do-it-yourself software users spend an average of 10 to over 20 hours longer on a return than if they used a paid tax preparer, depending on complexity of the return. The bottom line is - if you don’t know what you are doing do not rely on a tax preparation software package to make up for your lack of tax knowledge. Using a real live tax professional will save you time, aggravation and money.
* And finally (I know I basically just said this yesterday – but it bears repeating) do not use any of the “fast food” tax preparation chains. Period! You will, without a doubt, pay too much – and that may be the least of your problems!
So now you know what not to do!

Oh yes, and do not ask me to prepare your return. I am not accepting any new clients.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ha I love the reference to "fast food" tax chains! I got my career started at H & R Block, and some of my co-workers were like me-- Accounting majors just looking for that first job to put on their resume, but hoping to work at real accounting firms after graduation-- but so many of the others were just very unprofessional; they did sloppy jobs on the returns and really had no idea what they were doing. And their prices WERE ridiculous considering half of the people on my shift couldn't do basic math.

Although Block takes advantage of poor people, they're still nothing compared to Jackson Hewitt and Liberty-- loan sharks preying on the uneducated. And you're absolutely right about the tax software, it's extremely faulty and although honest mistakes can be made such as the slip of just one digit, the TaxCut excuse unfortunately doesn't hold up in court.