- Days left

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match ... With a Good Tax Preparer

×
Liberty TaxThere are matchmaking websites galore, offering to help you meet Mr. or Ms. Right. So why not a matchmaking site to help you meet the accountant of your dreams?

For all those lonely taxpayers out there, hoping to meet someone they can trust with that shoebox full of receipts and tax forms, Prosado.com is here. It's a new online service aiming to match taxpayers with tax preparers -- because asking your neighbor for a recommendation, or enlisting the services of Uncle Ralph, may not be the right answer for you.

You click in and, without divulging much personal information, you specify how complex your return is (in terms of the number of tax documents such as 1099 forms that you have). Then you wait for bids.

Tax preparers have paid a few hundred dollars to be able to participate on the site, and interested ones will name a price for you. (They can also see what other bids you've received, and can lower theirs -- a consumer-friendly feature.) You'll be able to see ratings of preparers who bid for your business, and to rate the preparer you end up using. If you accept a bid, you have a few days in which you can cancel.

Don't dismiss the idea of using a tax preparer, even if you've been filing your own return for years. This year -- with all the last-minute changes to the tax code caused by the fiscal cliff deal -- may be the year you need to hire a professional.

A knowledgeable pro may be able to save you lots of money (and more than make up for his or her bill) by helping you take advantage of credits, deductions, or other strategies that you may have overlooked. The tax code is extremely complex, after all -- nearly 4 million words of regulations. And it changes frequently.

Other Places to Look for Help

Prosado is not your only option for finding a tax preparer. Tax-prep companies offer online directories of their preparers. Here are some handy websites: H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and Liberty Tax Service.

Professional organizations are ready to help, as well. Some certified public accountants prepare tax returns for individuals, and the American Institute of CPAs will help you locate one via its website. Enrolled agents are federally licensed pros who focus solely on taxes, and the National Association of Enrolled Agents has a locator service on its website, as well. The National Association of Tax Professionals includes CPAs, enrolled agents, and other tax pros, and is ready to direct you to some.

For those with low to moderate income, especially those age 60 or older, the folks at AARP offer the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, making available for free the services of tax-return-preparing volunteers.

Decision Considerations

So once you have a few candidates in mind for your business, how do you choose?

The folks at Prosado rightfully point out that selecting a tax preparer shouldn't be a matter of grabbing the lowest bid. Instead, you should weigh all the factors that matter to you, such as location (if want face-to-face contact), credentials, and years of experience. A low bid might entice, but there are other important factors to consider before you choose:
  • Look into the preparer's training and credentials. CPAs and enrolled agents, as well as tax attorneys, are generally the most up-to-date on current tax rules, as they're required to regularly attend continuing education sessions. Membership in professional organizations is also a promising sign.
  • Do aim for a good personality fit. And if you're looking to keep using the person's services, favor someone who's available year-round, as you may have tax questions or issues to consider during the year (such as if you're changing jobs and have a 401(k) account, or you're getting divorced).
  • Make sure you understand how much it will cost before you sign up, so that you're not unpleasantly surprised later.
  • Find out how quickly your return will be prepared.
  • Find out what happens if you end up audited later. Will the preparer represent you? (Ideally, they will go talk to the IRS in your place, instead of merely accompanying you.)
The Bottom Line

If you're going to get help doing your taxes this year, start looking soon. This isn't a relationship you want to rush into. After all, if the preparer isn't a good fit for you, or just isn't very skilled, you might end up paying far more in taxes than you have to.



Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Will Medicare/Medicaid be Impacted by ACA?

The Affordable Care Act put in place significant tax-related programs that impact Medicare and Medicaid, such as increased Medicare taxes on earned and unearned income for high-wage earners, and Medicaid changes that increase the number of insured individuals. Establishing whether you are affected by the ACA-imposed taxes, or are eligible for certain health programs that fall under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is determined by filing your income tax.

8 Things You Think Are Tax Deductible That Aren't

There?s a fine line between looking to save money on your taxes and taking deductions that will raise eyebrows at the Internal Revenue Service. Some taxpayers are tripped up by expenses that they assume are tax deductions, but don?t qualify under IRS guidelines. Here are a dozen items that can lead to unpleasant surprises in case of an audit.

Essential Tax Forms for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, affects how millions of Americans will prepare their taxes in the new year. The law now includes penalties for all who haven?t obtained health insurance -- and those penalties are expected to be paid at tax time. The ACA also provides tax credits to help people pay for insurance, and you can claim those credits when you file your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a number of tax forms to accommodate the ACA.

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.

What are 1095 Tax Forms for Health Care?

In 2014 the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, introduced three new tax forms relevant to individuals, employers and health insurance providers. They are forms 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. These forms help determine if you need to comply with the new shared responsibility payment, the fee you might have to pay if you don't have health insurance. For individuals who bought insurance through the health care marketplace, this information will help to determine whether you are able to receive an additional premium tax credit or have to pay some back.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum