Tips for hiring a tax preparer and who can and cannot file right now.
It's the start of what's being called the "delayed tax season", due to the fiscal cliff crisis in Washington. Sheri Slayton with Jackson Hewitt tax preparation service in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties says most of you are good to go. "Probably 95 % of the tax filers can file now."
There are some that have to wait a little while longer, she says. "The one that's really being affected the most are the education credits. We've got quite a few of our clients that are either their dependents or themselves they have gone to school so they have the education credits and those, the IRS is telling us won't be processed until probably the mid February timeline."
Others being delayed include taxpayers who itemize or those claiming residential energy credits, depreciation or general business credits.
Slayton also shares some tips if you are hiring a preparer, including the following:
· What to look for in the preparer's background - Select someone who is qualified and credible; consult sources like the Better Business Bureau or state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants. You can also ask friends, family or co-workers for references.
· What kind of training does your preparer have - Make sure your preparer is up to date on recent tax changes and understands how those changes may affect you. Ongoing, updated training is also key, since tax law changes often. At Jackson Hewitt, preparers go through a comprehensive training curriculum (including basic, intermediate and advanced courses).
· Red flags to watch out for - It’s important to review your tax return completely and ask questions before signing it. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the accuracy of what you are reporting. Check for errors such as incorrect social security numbers and addresses; these mistakes can delay IRS processing of your return. Also, avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank return.
· What to know about Do-It-Yourself tax software - Taxpayers who have purchased off-the-shelf tax software and plan to prepare their own returns should confirm that these products are up-to-date, as many late-breaking changes have occurred that may not have been integrated by the time of purchase.