Choosing the Right Tax Preparer

Choosing the Right Tax Preparer

Texas CPAs Offer Free Tip Sheet for Picking the Right Tax Professional


Dallas, TX–(PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE)–March 10, 2008–The W-2s have arrived and the march to this year’s April 15 tax deadline has begun, leaving taxpayers with that age-old dilemma: should I do my taxes myself or call in the professionals? For consumers who decide to seek help from a tax preparer, the key is choosing the right tax professional to fit your needs. The Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants offers the following five tips for picking the tax professional who is right for you. In addition, a free online tip sheet for choosing a tax preparer is available in the “Tax Talk” section of the society’s consumer Web site,

Question #1: Should I do my taxes myself or hire a professional to help me out?

Answer: The answer generally depends on how complex your tax situation is. Not everyone needs the help of a CPA or tax professional, but as your financial situation becomes more complex, paying for tax advice and preparation could save you money in the long run. The IRS estimates that it can take roughly 28 1/2 hours to research tax law, organize your records, and complete a standard 1040 return with three common schedules — Schedule A for itemized deductions, Schedule B for interest and dividends, and Schedule D for capital gains.

Question #2: If I decide to hire a professional, should I use a certified public accountant, tax attorney, enrolled agent, or other preparer to complete my return?

Answer: You have several choices when looking for someone to prepare your tax return. CPAs, tax attorneys, and enrolled agents (individuals certified by the U.S. Treasury Department) are among the professionals who can help taxpayers with their returns.

It’s important to note that CPAs, tax attorneys, and enrolled agents are the only ones who can legally represent you before the IRS in the event that your tax return is audited.

Question #3: How do I find a CPA or tax professional?

Answer: Finding a CPA is kind of like finding a doctor. Start by asking friends and co-workers who helps them with their taxes. Ask your lawyer, banker, insurance agent, or investment advisor for recommendations. You also can check with your local chamber of commerce, civic and church groups. In addition, many CPA chapters in Texas have referral services that connect the public with CPAs. Visit and click on “Find a CPA” to see the contact information for your area.

Begin your search for a tax advisor early, well before the April 15 filing deadline. That will allow you time to research and time for the CPA to complete your tax return without filing an extension. Remember, you must pay any taxes due by April 15, even if you file an extension.

Question #4: What qualifications should I look for in a CPA?

Answer: First, make sure your CPA is licensed by checking the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy’s Web site: Interview your CPA and ask how much experience he/she has in preparing tax returns.

Find out how long they’ve been preparing tax returns and how much education they have. Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective tax preparer for the names of clients you can contact. Find out from past clients how satisfied they were with the work performed and whether it was done in a timely manner. Look not only for technical competence but also for interpersonal and communication skills. Membership in a professional association like the Texas Society of CPAs is also important, because members are governed by a stringent code of professional ethics.

Question #5: How much will it cost to have my tax return prepared by a CPA?

Answer: The cost of preparing your tax return can range from under $100 for a short-form return to thousands of dollars for a complicated return. Find out whether the preparer charges on an hourly basis, uses a fixed price, or bases the fee on the number of tax forms that need to be completed. Bring copies of your past tax returns to the CPA to help him/her determine how complicated it will be to prepare your return.

Beware of tax preparers who say they will base their fee on the refund they obtain for you. Chances are these individuals may be acting improperly.


For more tax information, visit the “Tax Talk” section of While there, sign up to receive a free monthly electronic newsletter with personal finance tips on a variety of topics.


TSCPA ( is a nonprofit, voluntary, professional organization representing Texas CPAs. The society has 20 local chapters statewide and has 27,000 members, one of the largest in-state memberships of any state CPA society in the United States. TSCPA is committed to serving the public interest with programs that advance the highest standards of ethics and practice within the CPA profession.

Choosing the Right Tax Preparer