Third in a series.


Finding a tax professional is on the minds of many people this time of year, and Internal Revenue Service officials say this task is something that needs to be handled very carefully.

"The bottom line is that you're signing that return and you're the ultimate responsible party," said Bill Brunson, IRS spokesperson. "So, when you choose a paid professional, choose one wisely like you're choosing a physician or a dentist."

One easy way to tell if a person is up to handling tax filings is to make sure they are licensed. Any licensed tax preparer should have a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN.

They will also be thorough.

“Your good paid preparer is going to be able to explain everything on that return that they’re showing and say how it affects you, the individual," Brunson said. "They’re going to ask you for a lot of document. They’re going to ask a lot of questions.”

It's also important to not base choosing your tax professional based on who can get the biggest return.

“They’re going to say, ‘Hey, I can get you the biggest refund in town,’ and they haven’t run any of the numbers on the forms," Brunson added. "How would they know if they don’t have any feel for the actual, final outcome? They won’t know if you’re getting a refund or you owe.”

Check back for more tax tips as the deadline to file draws closer. Next week, Brunson will explain who qualifies for free tax preparation services, and where those who qualify can get their taxes done at no cost.

Part I and Part II