Protect Your Taxes and Yourself

With happy groundhogs, April showers, and May flowers comes tax time, and if you are like most work at home moms, your plate is already full. It may sound like a great idea to have a friend (who is supposedly experienced), a cheap “tax pro,” or try doing taxes yourself, but you want to get the most back or pay the lease in, and when your taxes aren’t done right, you feel the pain.

So many moms have written on forums, in blogs, and all over with heart wrenching stories of how they ended up owing when they really should have received a refund. Many of these “tax pros” that have wrongly filed the taxes turn out to be criminals. In fact, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimated that tax fraud was over five billion, and identity theft is a huge part of that. So, how can you protect yourself?

1.      Find a Recognized and Respectable Tax Professional

There are many tax professionals with certified credentials such as the following:

Certified Public Accountants (CPAs): CPAs get their credentials and their authority from the CPA society. They may only be able to do taxes in the states where they are licensed. They can prepare your tax returns, certify financial statements, and represent tax payers.

Enrolled Agent (EAs): As get their credentials and authority straight from the U.S. Treasury. They are enrolled to represent tax payers before the IRS and are capable of handling all tax issues. EAs are the only tax professionals that are required to take sixteen to twenty-four hours of tax courses each year before doing your taxes.

Tax Attorney: An attorney is licensed by the Bar Associations for their state. They have many areas of practice. However, not just any attorney will do; you want someone who is a member of the Taxation section of the Bar Association.

Registered Tax Return Preparers: Registered Tax preparers get their credentials from the IRS. This means they are tested and required to take certain educational courses in order to prepare your taxes.

2.Be Sure the Tax Professional is a Member of an Association or Society

There are many different associations and societies a tax professional can be a part of, and it is important to choose a well-known one like NAEA, NATP, AICPA, NSA, or the Bar’s Taxation Section. When a tax professional is a member of an association or society, they have to take even more tax courses than the state minimum which means they know more about your taxes than the average Joe.

3.Make Sure to Choose a Professional with Experience in Your Are.

So you have found a tax professional that has credentials, one that is a member of an association, but does this person also have experience doing taxes in your area? Or, how often do they move around. Someone on the move or lacking experience may be less reliable. Be sure the person knows your state taxes, and can be easily found if you have tax questions later.

If you are unsure about who you want to hire, you can also contact the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility to steer you in the right direction. Being a mom is hard enough without dealing with tax issues, so be sure to keep your taxes protected and yourself.

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