Tips for Finding a Qualified Tax Professional Before Tax Time

Tax forms, a tax reference book, and a calculator scatted on a table

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Each year thousands of businesses across the Northwest prepare state and federal taxes. However, finding a qualified tax professional can be a daunting process. Here are a few tips for finding a qualified tax professional to help your company efficiently file taxes.

  1. Get clear on what your needs are before you start looking for a tax professional. Some accountants and tax professionals can also help business owners and managers better understand the health of their business.
  2. Referrals from local chambers of commerce and industry associations are an easy place to start. If you get a list of local tax professionals, ask the organization which ones are well established and have a good reputation of working with local companies.
  3. When you contact a tax professional, ask about their specializations and experience with businesses around your size and within your industry. Also, ask the tax professional if you can contact several existing clients to help determine if the tax professional is a good fit for your business needs.

The IRS also has several recommendations for finding a qualified tax preparation specialist.  

  • Be careful of tax return preparers that promise a large refund. And avoid preparers that base their fees on a percentage of the return.
  • Make sure the tax preparer has a PTIN. The preparer should provide you with a copy of the return that displays the PTIN and is signed by the preparer before the return is filed. 
  • Only sign a completed return after you have carefully reviewed it. Never sign a blank return 
  • Look for a well-established tax preparer that will be around in the following months and years to answer questions about the return. Make sure the tax preparer has the correct credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS on matters such as audits, collections, and appeals.

If your business is in the Northwest, there are business support organizations (not tax professionals) that can advise businesses on managing the tax process. Business support organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are typically free or low-cost because they are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration or local governments.

Statewide accounting organizations offer resources for finding a qualified tax professional. Here are the main organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.





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