What to know before you hire a tax preparer

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. — If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be getting your tax information in the mail. News 8 is helping you stretch your dollar this morning with what you should be looking for before hiring a preparer. We’re all hoping to get a return this year rather than a bill and you certainly don’t want to pay too much to get your taxes done so I came up with a few ways to stretch your dollar.

It’s that time of year, your W-2’s will be going out soon if they haven’t already and you’ll have to decide who’s preparing them. If you’re using a professional, H&R Blocks Fred Sokolowski says make sure they have a preparers tax identification number.

“This is especially important because the IRS looks at this  to make sure that this is being done correctly. Sometimes there’s these cottage industries, your neighbor down the street offers to do your taxes. If he doesn’t have a PTIN, you probably do not want him doing your taxes, where is he going to be if you ever get a letter from the IRS,” Sokolowski said.

You also need to make sure they sign the return and you have their contact information in case you get audited and need their help down the road. As for the cost, Sokolowski says you’ll be charged based on the forms that are needed to accurately file your return.

“I have seen your typical married couple with two children go anywhere from $170 to $350 and it could be more. Do they have a business, do they have investment income, have they sold stock,” he said.

If your return is simple you could do it yourself for free using an at-home program. One way to control costs if you do hire someone: get organized now! If your paperwork is all together and organized, it’ll take the preparer less time to get the work done.

If you do prepare your taxes yourself, you may want to consider having somewhere like H&R block look them over for you. They’ll do that for $29 and then certify it for you. That means they’ll stand by you if there are any problems.


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