How you should plan ahead for tax return season

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jan 19, 2016

Chances are, right now your employee tax forms are on their way to you. Tax preparation seems daunting to most, but we are reminded of a few simple, yet scary words… IRS Tax Audit.

In today’s world there are several filing options. Here are a few tips from James Ramos, Principal at Ramos-Bell Tax Services, to make great tax decisions: 

  • Online tax return software options are available through numerous sources, including H&R Block and Turbo Tax.  Those may work sufficiently if you know all your deductions.  Software has limitations, because it will only process what the user enters.  If there is an error, it is due to the processor and may be hard to correct.
  • Local tax preparation services work well, but could have issues if you don’t go prepared.  If a preparer sees you as a number and not a unique person, important questions may not get answered. This may lead to having a tax refund that is not maximized or paying too much in taxes. People filing itemized 1040 forms are most likely to be affected by this.  On another note, if they deposit your return deposited in their account for any reason, that is a BIG IRS red flag.
  • Many tax filers choose to save money by having a family member, friend or neighbor do their taxes. This may put sensitive information out for all to see. Proceed with caution here. 

Here are a few questions to ask your Tax Preparer:

  • Are you open and available all year?  (The IRS may come calling.)
  • Do you have a business license? (If the person spends the money on a license and insurance, it is a good sign that they are truly in it for the long haul. This is no guarantee.)
  • Do you have and EIN (Employee Identification Number)
  • Do you have a PTIN (Preparers Tax Identification Number). ( This means that the IRS knows who they are. If they don’t want the IRS to know them, proceed with caution.)

Tax professionals shouldn’t mind answering these questions, along with others you may have. Remember,  you are their client and you want the best for your refund.  If you are searching for a new preparer, then most of the questions will be for next tax season and can be answered at your tax preparation appointment.
For more tips and video tutorials from James Ramos, check out Ramos-Bell Tax Services Facebook page: