Guidelines for Choosing a Commercial Tax Preparer

If you choose to go to a commercial tax preparer, please be sure to do the following:
  • Ask about the preparer’s qualifications. Tax professionals should be properly trained and should keep up with yearly changes to the tax code.
  • Check out the tax preparer’s reputation with others in the community.
  • Research the tax preparer with your local Better Business Bureau ( to see if any complaints have been filed.
  • Ask about all fees to have your taxes prepared before scheduling an appointment.
  • Be sure to ask if there are any fees for additional schedules or forms, like the Schedule EIC, used to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or if you have to pay fees to get your refund quickly.
  • Avoid a tax preparer who suggests you lie or make up information. You will be legally held responsible for errors, NOT the preparer.

When you go to the tax preparer:
  • Check names, addresses, Social Security numbers and wage information BEFORE you sign the return.
  • Ask questions to understand the reason for any refund you get or taxes that you owe.
  • Write down the preparer’s full name and phone number to call if you have additional questions about your tax return later. Make sure you can contact them after April 15th.
  • Do not sign a blank tax return or a return completed in pencil. Sign a tax return in pen, only after you’ve reviewed it.
  • Check that the tax preparer signs the tax return in pen. The preparer’s signature, address and Preparer Identification Number (PTIN) are required on the tax return by federal law. The PTIN indicates the preparer has registered with the IRS.
  • Never leave originals of documents with a tax preparer if he or she needs to work on your tax return when you are not present.
  • Request a printed copy of your completed tax return. Keep a copy for at least 3 years.

What should you bring?
  • A Social Security card and/or ITIN for EACH family member. We cannot use prior year files to verify Social Security numbers.
  • A photo ID for each filer.
  • W-2 forms for all jobs worked in the tax year.
  • Child care provider name, address, and tax ID number or Social Security number.
  • All banking account information (a voided check and/or savings deposit slip) to direct deposit your refund.
  • A copy of last year’s tax return.
  • Any document or information about money you have received from the IRS or state.
  • All 1099 forms for other income, if any.
  • Any other tax related documents you have received.
  • If you are a victim of identity theft, you must bring the letter from the IRS with your PIN number. A new letter is issued from the IRS every year.
  • Form 1095A if you purchased insurance through the Marketplace.
  • If you are married and filing jointly, your spouse must be present. If you are married and filing separately, you need your spouse's name as spelled on his/her Social Security card and your spouse's Social Security number.