McClatchy-Tribune News Service
While computer-based tax preparation products have simplified the tax return process, many people still prefer to have their taxes done by a professional tax preparer.
Like doing taxes, the process of selecting a tax preparer requires time and careful consideration.
Most tax preparers come with good credentials. But there are some who are less that reputable.
When considering using a tax preparer, the American Bar Association suggests these tips for consumers:
_ Avoid tax preparers who guarantee a refund. Only the Internal Revenue Service can determine whether an individual or couple can receive a refund.
_ Skip the services of a preparer who promises a bigger refund than anyone else. Every preparer should come up with substantially similar numbers when returns are done the right way.
_ Don't use a preparer who asks you to sign a blank return.
_ Avoid a preparer who requires that the refund be mailed directly to him or her.
_ Never use a preparer that charges a percentage of a refund as a preparation fee.
If you have questions or doubt about a tax preparation service, it might be worth it to contact the local Better Business Bureau to learn if any complaints have been lodged against the preparer.