The U.S. tax code grows more complicated every year and currently spans thousands of pages – even government experts can’t agree exactly how long it is. So it’s not surprising that millions of Americans hire professional tax preparers to complete their returns.
Relinquishing the onerous task of calculating your taxes to a professional may save you time and give peace of mind – they know more about tax law than you do, right?
But remember: You’re still legally responsible for all information on the return.
So if the preparer makes a mistake or intentionally defrauds the government, you’ll be on the hook for any additional taxes, interest and penalties – even possible prosecution.
The IRS notes that although most tax return preparers are professional, honest and serve their clients well, taxpayers should use the same standards for choosing a preparer as they would for a doctor or lawyer, and be on the lookout for incompetence and criminal activity.
There are several basic types of tax preparers: certified public accountants, IRS-designated enrolled agents, tax attorneys, storefront agents (think H&R Block) and self-employed preparers.