Ask The Experts: Who to Trust With Your Taxes

My question is about filing income tax. I watched the show about scams - very good show. I'm looking for a tax preparer/accountant to do my 2008 income tax. I'm not sure how to look for a reputable and trusted tax accountant. I live in Georgia. Who do you suggest I should go to help file my income tax? Thank you so much for your time and help. -Caryl

The key to finding the right tax preparer is getting a referral to someone with the right credentials. I recommend against going to one of the large chain tax preparation places. While they have some good and qualified employees, many of the employees are underqualified. They’re trained how to enter information into the tax software, but they’re often not educated on the tax law. That means they’re not able to recognize problems or opportunities for you.

Instead, you’re better off going with a local tax preparer who has good credentials, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA). These credentials provide at least some information about the preparer’s background and knowledge.

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How do you know which local tax preparer to choose? The best way is to ask people you trust. Ask your attorney, a business owner you know well, or another professional with good connections. Ask who they use and who they would recommend.

Don’t be afraid to meet with two or three tax preparers before you actually select one to do your taxes. It’s a great idea to meet with more than one to get a feel for their skill level and for whether you’d enjoy working with her or him.


Tracy Coenenis an On The Money contributor, fraud investigator and forensic accountant, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.