As a small business professional, you might be on the market for a new tax preparer, one that is equipped to handle the tax needs related to your business. There is a sea of tax preparers that begin advertising their services around this time, and it might be difficult to decide which professional service is the one for you. When it comes to small business tax, it’s imperative that you’re sure you’ve placed your trust in the hands of an experienced professional.  Here are several things to keep in mind when looking for good tax services in Austin, TX.

Time in Business

Tax season can be a very confusing time if you’re looking for a reputable professional to prepare your tax returns. Part of this is due to the fly-by-night supposed “professionals” that crop up between February and April of a given tax year. Many of these preparers are unlicensed and not equipped to handle any sort of complicated tax situations. It’s also not surprising that these businesses disappear as soon as the tax season is finished, leaving their clients at the hands of the IRS if there are any issues.

It’s important to consider how long a tax preparation operation has been in business. The longer, the better in most cases. Take the time to search for tax services from a business with a reputation and several years of experience under its belt. This shouldn’t suggest that newer businesses are not trustworthy, but businesses that have quite a few years of experience are generally more equipped to take care of your unique tax situation.

Find a Preparer Experienced in Your Work

As a small business owner, it’s a good idea to find a tax preparer that has some experience in your line of work. When a preparer has experience in your industry, they’re more capable of handling the more complicated facets of small business taxes. Though there are Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents that can handle many different aspects of small business tax, it’s a good idea to find one who knows the ins and outs of the way that your business works.

This way, surprises along the way are unlikely. If you’re at a loss for how to find a tax professional in your industry, ask around. Friends and colleagues in your same field may very well have some useful suggestions for you based on their own personal experiences.

Consider Their Reviews

When looking for a good tax services in Austin, TX, it’s a good idea to check out customer reviews for the businesses that you’re considering. Don’t be satisfied with checking the reviews only listed on the company’s website, because a lot of the time, companies post more “testimonials” and less “criticism”.

Consider using an uninvolved third-party review system, like Yelp or the Yellowpages. There’s a good chance that the company that you’re considering doing business with has public reviews posted by previous clients. Though taking these reviews as gospel isn’t recommended, it’s good to use them as a tool to gather insight about the companies and how they relate to their clients.

About E-Filing

Not only is e-filing a convenience of our modern, technological world, it’s also a useful tool for determining information about the potential tax preparer.

Ask a preparer that you’re considering if they practice e-filing. It’s determined to be the most accurate way to file tax returns, as well as the most reliable. Keep in mind that any professional tax preparer (that is, any person paid to prepare tax returns for more than ten people each year) is usually required to offer e-filing.

In special cases, there are clients who wish to have their taxes prepared and filed the old-fashioned way, and in those cases, the tax preparer is expected to have an explanation ready for the IRS, should they inquire about why the return was filed this way.

If the potential tax preparer doesn’t offer e-filing, it could be due to one of two reasons: either your preparer has less than ten clients per year, or they have more than ten and they’re failing to meet the requirements. Either way, it’s probably in your best interest to avoid this preparer.

Professional Organizations

Some tax preparers, accountants, Enrolled Agents, and CPAs belong to professional organizations. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants requires that all of their members are CPAs in good standing. The National Society of Accountants and the National Society of Tax Professionals are also professional organizations that allow memberships only for professional accountants and tax preparers with credentials.

Though it isn’t a requirement that your tax preparer belong to one of these additional societies or organizations, it’s usually a benefit. Membership in a professional group generally means that the professional preparer has maintained their qualifications and remained in good standing with their practice.

It’s also worth noting that if a tax professional states or suggests that they are endorsed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this person is not being truthful. Though the IRS does recognize credentials like CPAs and Enrolled Agents, it does not endorse any individual tax preparer.  

Compare Fees for Tax Services in Austin, TX

It’s ill-advised to put price before quality when it comes to choosing tax services in Austin, TX, though comparing the fees of several reputable preparers so that you get a good deal is understandable. If you’ve narrowed your list of potential tax preparers down to a handful, feel free to examine their fees.

You can ask for rough estimates from preparers without feeling obligated to agree to the professional’s services. Shop around, because there’s no shame in wanting a good deal. If you’ve got two tax professionals with equal qualifications and experience, and one offers to perform the same service for a more reasonable price than the initial professional, you’ve at least got the opportunity to save money if you choose.

Aside from comparing fees, it’s good to have an estimate of what the cost of service may be. That way you’re at least somewhat prepared to pay the amount needed in order to complete your tax return.

If you’re in the market for a reputable CPA firm, consider West Austin Tax for your income tax questions and services. You can visit their website for information, video resources, or to schedule an appointment with one of their professional CPAs. You can also call (512) 330-9400 for more support.

*West Austin Tax is not a CPA firm.

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