Legislative / Regulatory | Taxation

Good CPAs steal spotlight from bad tax preparers

April15 All the buzz about regulating tax preparers (first in Maryland, then in New York, then by the IRS) has everyone focused on nefarious, fraudulent, unregulated tax preparers and the dangers they pose to taxpayers.

But there's a happier side, too: It has folks thinking about the virtues of CPAs.

Exhibit A: In an article titled "Filers, beware: Pick your tax preparer wisely," the Baltimore Sun's Eileen Ambrose offered these words of caution for taxpayers:

"Warning: Unless you're getting help from a lawyer, certified public accountant or an enrolled agent who represents taxpayers before the IRS, your tax preparer is largely unregulated. Mistakes by paid preparers are frequent."

Don't miss Ambrose's article. Scroll to the end and check out her awesome tips for how taxpayers can find a reputable preparer.

Exhibit B comes straight from the horse's mouth. In announcing its plan to regulate tax preparers, the IRS offered its own tips for how taxpayers should choose a tax preparer. Among them:

"Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collection and appeals. Other return preparers may only represent taxpayers for audits of returns they actually prepared."

The message is clear, folks: If you want your taxes done right, by someone who will be there to back you up from start to finish, you need a CPA. Heck, the IRS itself says so.

If you've got a few minutes (and who doesn't during tax season?), here are a few resources that might prove helpful:


Bill Sheridan