5 Tips for Choosing Your Maryland Tax Return Preparer
Tax season is always a busy time for you as a business owner. Not only do you see an influx of clients who finally decided to act upon their New Year’s resolutions, but you also have to devote time to getting the paperwork for your tax return together. And if you don’t have a tax return preparer you can rely on, you need to find one ASAP! But don’t make any rushed decisions—do your due diligence and research the candidates. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, you are the one responsible and liable for what’s on your tax return, so you are looking for a Maryland tax preparation expert you can trust. And here is how to find one.
Make Sure They Are Qualified
Are you dealing with a CPA or a “registered tax return preparer?” Education and experience do make a huge difference. Check if your tax preparer has a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) and ask about their training or professional affiliations. If they belong to MACPA or AICPA, it’s a good sign that your tax preparer receives continuous training to stay on top of the new tax legislation. Because tax brackets, tax credits and deductions constantly fluctuate, it’s crucial that you find a tax expert who knows (and understands) all the recent changes.
Beware of Heavy Promoters
It’s normal for CPAs and tax return companies to promote their services during the tax season. You’ve probably seen a person dressed in the Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam costume on the street waving at cars. Another acceptable promotion method is offering discounts, especially later in the tax season when the majority of people already got their taxes done. However, beware of promotions that lure you in with promises of free food, luxury gifts or companies offering to pay you for doing business with them. A respectable Maryland tax preparation company is likely so busy during the tax season that they don’t have the need for heavy promotion. Their service and the value it provides speaks for itself.
Look for Relevant Experience
Business tax returns are very different from personal tax returns. On top of that, within the business tax field itself there are many variables. The specifics and complexity of your tax return will depend on whether your business is a pass-through entity, a tax-exempt organization, national or international company, as well as many other factors. In the initial interview, describe the structure of your business and ask your tax preparer if he or she has experience doing taxes for someone like you. Different business tax preparation experts may have their narrow niches they specialize in, so look for someone who’s helped customers like you in the past.
Hire Someone Local
A federal tax return can probably be successfully done by a qualified tax professional anywhere in the U.S. State returns, on the other hand, can have specific requirements in each state. For example, Maryland’s fuel reporting dates under IFTA, as well as sales and use tax guidelines might not be the same as in Colorado or even the bordering Pennsylvania. And if you run a business or have commercial property in multiple states, things can get complicated. It’s better to trust your tax preparation to someone who has real-life experience with your state’s tax laws.
Focus on Communication
This is another benefit of hiring someone local—you can actually meet them in person before you make your final decision who to hire. From the initial phone call or email, you should be able to tell how responsive your tax preparer is going to be. If you keep getting the voice mail and don’t receive a response to your email until two days later, this is not a good sign. There is always quite a bit of back-and-forth in business tax preparation, and time is always of paramount importance. You need someone who can answer your questions fast while using simple language to explain complicated concepts. After a conversation with your tax preparer, you should feel enlightened, not confused.
Located in Halethorpe, Md., The CFO Source offers tax preparation services in Maryland. Whether you just need your business taxes done or want us to help you with tax planning, accounting or bookkeeping, contact us online or by phone with any questions.