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Questions you should ask before hiring a tax preparer

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Sat, Apr 4th 2015 07:00 am

Submitted by the New York State Tax Commissioner

Are you thinking about hiring a tax preparer to complete your personal income tax return? This week, acting New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion provided consumer protection tips for taxpayers who decide to do so.

Approximately 70 percent of the state's 10 million income taxpayers hire tax preparers.

"Filing a return is often the most important financial transaction of the entire year for many taxpayers," Manion said. "Don't be shy, ask for recommendations when selecting a tax preparer, shop around, deal with someone you know to be a trustworthy adviser."

New York is just one of four states nationwide to regulate tax return preparers. More than 40,000 preparers have registered with the state.

In an effort to make sure your tax return is accurate and complete, Manion suggested asking the preparer these four questions:

•Are you registered with the IRS and New York state?

Most tax preparers are required to be registered both with the IRS and the state. Learn how to verify a tax preparer at www.tax.ny.gov/tp/reg/tpreg_list.htm.

•How much will it cost?

Ask to see a list of fees. The fee should be directly related to the services provided and not the refund amount. Also, by law, preparers cannot charge to e-file in New York.

•How will I receive my refund?

A refund should never get deposited into a preparer's bank account. The fastest and safest way to receive your refund is to have it direct deposited into your bank account. For those without a bank account, they should consider getting their refund on a debit card.

•Will you sign the return?

A completed tax return must be signed by both the taxpayer and the preparer. Preparers also must include their federal tax ID (known as a PTIN) and either their state registration number or an exclusion code.

If you're aware of a tax preparer who has engaged in illegal or improper conduct, contact the New York State Tax Department at 518-530-HELP or file a tax preparer complaint online at www.8.tax.ny.gov/TPCF/iflowStart.

The deadline to file your tax return is April 15.

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