How to Choose a Tax Return Preparer

It is important that you choose a tax preparer with care and caution. As the taxpayer you are legally responsible for what you file with the IRS regardless of whether you use a paid return preparer.

Most return preparers are professional and honest, but some engage in illegal activities. For example, preparers may manipulate income amounts to fraudulently obtain tax credits. In some situations you may not even know about the false expenses, deductions, exemptions and/or credits shown on your tax return.

However, when the IRS detects a fraudulent return, the taxpayer — not the return preparer — must pay the additional taxes and interest and may be subject to penalties.

Helpful Hints

  • Be cautious of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers or who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.
  • Check the preparer’s credentials. Only attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents (EAs) can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collection and appeals.
  • Inquire whether the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education.
  • Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed.

Reputable preparers will ask to see substantiation such as receipts and will ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify. By doing so, they are trying to help their clients file complete and accurate tax returns.

Disclaimer: Hone Maxwell LLP articles and blogs are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.

Latest Post


12 Marina View #23-01
Asia Square Tower 2
Singapore 018961
+65 8648 3995


3465 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108


Centro Corporativo Dayco
Blvd. General Gustavo Salinas #11050
Suite 602, Col. Aviacion
22014 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
+52 (664) 504 6415

Entering the U.S. Business Market

Download Our Free Guide

Foreign investors: Learn about options for opening a business and tax compliance in the U.S.