Choose Tax Preparer
If your tax situation is complex, you may want to hire a professional tax preparer. Choose the preparer carefully because you will be legally responsible for the tax return even if someone prepares it for you.
Know the Types of Tax Preparers >>
There are several types of tax preparers:
|National tax preparation companies||May or may not have very much experience with specialized tax returns such as non-resident returns. A relatively inexpensive option for less complex tax forms.|
|Enrolled agents||See National Association of Enrolled Agents for information about the training and credentials of Enrolled Agents.|
|Certified Public Accountants (C.P.A.s)||See the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for information about the training and credentials of CPA’s.|
|Tax attorneys||The most expensive choice. Probably only needed by those with very complex tax situations.|
Select a Tax Preparer >>
You can find tax preparers through personal recommendations by friends or colleagues, through the phone book, or through professional organizations’ web sites. Tax preparers can prepare both federal and state tax forms.
Learn about Tax Preparers to Avoid >>
We recommend that you avoid tax preparers who:
- Claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers
- Base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund
- Have records of complaints filed with organizations such as:
Know Types of Questions to Ask >>
It is important to be sure the tax preparer has experience preparing tax forms for people in your particular situation. Not all tax preparers understand the nonresident tax forms such as the 1040NR. It is also important to understand possible costs before agreeing to hire a tax preparer.
Examples of questions to ask a potential tax preparer include:
- What is the maximum amount I might have to pay to have my tax return prepared?
- Who will prepare my tax return and where will it be prepared? How can I contact this person?
- If you are a nonresident for tax purposes, ask how many Forms 1040NR the preparer completes each year.
- If you are in F or J immigration status, ask if the preparer is familiar with the special rules that apply to F and J visa holders, and ask how many returns he/she does for F and J visa holders each year.
- If you will be required to file a “dual status” tax return (you were a tax resident for part of the year), ask how many dual status returns the preparer completes each year.
What to Do After Your Tax Forms Are Prepared >>
After the tax preparer finishes your return, he or she is required by law to:
- Sign the return
- Fill in the preparer areas of the form
- Include his/her identifying number
- Give you a copy of the return
- Review the completed return to ensure all tax information, your name, address and Social Security or ITIN. number(s) are correct.
- Make sure that you understand the form and make sure that it seems to be accurate.
- If you want the preparer to be able to talk to the IRS about how your return was prepared, check the “Third Party Authorization” box on the tax return form.
- Sign the tax return form.
- Important: Never sign a blank return, and never sign in pencil.
- IRS website
- IRS Forms and Publications
- Social Security Administration
- International Students And Social Security Numbers
- Your Social Security Number And Card
- Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens
- Identify Theft and Your Social Security Number
- Information for Foreign Students and Scholars – IRS website
- Tax Treaty Text Listed by Country
- Handbook for Employers