Hiring a tax professional can save you money

Hiring a tax professional taxes can help you catch deductions that you may have missed in the past.

Angie's List recommends that you don't rush to hire just anyone. It's important to research your tax pro thoroughly, because anyone can set up shop and claim they can do your taxes.

Angie's List's tips for hiring tax help:

• Hire help or go alone? It's probably fine for most people with simple tax situations to prepare their own returns. However, for those with more complex situations, calling a professional is the way to go. Consider having the same person prepare your taxes every year. The longer you work together with someone, the more familiar they become with your needs -- and the more likely they are to do a great job for you.

• Check credentials: Few states require tax preparers to be licensed, so it's up to you to find a qualified and reliable professional. Good bets are CPAs, tax attorneys, and enrolled agents – they are required to undergo education and testing requirements. Ask the preparer about his/her training. Will they represent you in case of an audit? Will you be able to contact them after the return is filed? Reputable tax preparers will ask to see receipts and will ask multiple questions to determine whether expenses, deductions and other items qualify. By doing so, they are trying to help their clients avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes. Angie's List collects reports on tax preparers and accountants – read reviews as part of your research when hiring.

• Ask for an estimate: There is a wide range of tax preparers with varying fees, so know up front what you're paying for. Beware of preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers. Fees are generally determined by an hourly rate.

• Get references: Ask questions from clients who have used the tax preparer before. Were they satisfied with their service?

Make sure your pro is filing online so you can get a quicker refund: The IRS claims the e-file option is fast, secure and taxpayers who choose a direct deposit can get their refund in as little as 10 days.
 

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