Business owners listen up, you have a little more than two weeks to file your corporate taxes! The March 15th tax deadline is approaching. On March 15th, businesses must either file their tax return and pay any tax due or file an automatic 6-month extension. So this means, your bookkeeper should be way done with your books and those books should be in the hands of your accountant now.
Speaking of accountants, the IRS has a warning out to all taxpayers, be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. While most people out there doing taxes are honest, be careful before you give anyone your trusted personal information. Here are some things to ask a potential tax preparer before you turn over your confidential documents and important financial information:
- USE A TRUSTED TAX PROFESSIONAL – Every year, the IRS gets reports about tax return preparers who either misfiled or blatantly stole from their clients.This is a huge problem since the IRS reports that about 60% of the people in the U.S. use a professional to prepare their taxes.
- DO A BACKGROUND CHECK – Make sure you look into the person who is doing your taxes. If you own a business, choose someone who specializes in corporate tax returns. Make sure to run a background check if you have any doubts. Preparers who don’t understand tax code, can cause you to file incorrectly or mistakenly take a deduction that your business isn’t entitled to. This could result in penalties.
- CHECK CREDENTIALS – Does your tax professional have a PTIN or IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number? Every paid tax return preparer is required to have a PTIN because he or she is required to register with the IRS. If your preparer doesn’t have one, then don’t give them your personal information. The IRS also has a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications List you can visit at www.irs.gov.
- ASK FOR A REFERRAL - Check if your tax return preparer has a professional credential. Are they a certified public accountant, an attorney or an enrolled agent? A professional credential often means the person is required to attend continuing education courses and would be updated on new tax law changes. If in doubt about a qualified tax professional, ask for a referral. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to share the names of qualified individuals.
- ASK ABOUT SERVICE FEES – It may sound ironic, but you shouldn’t go with a tax preparer who claims they can get you the biggest refund. Usually preparers who boast about big refunds, are cutting corners or taking credits when they shouldn’t. Another question to ask is to make sure that when they get you a refund, it will go into your account, not the preparer’s bank account. Finally, make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Those of us who do work for more than 10 clients offer the e-file service. The IRS says e-file is the safest and most accurate way to file a tax return.
Remember, even if you’re desperate to file your taxes, make sure to take the proper steps to ensure you have a qualified tax professional doing your taxes. If you have any doubts or questions, please feel free to email me. It’s my busiest time of the year, but I truly love it because I know I’m working hard for my clients.
Have a great week everyone!