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Essential Questions To Ask Before Letting Someone Prepare Your Taxes

Essential Questions To Ask Before Letting Someone Prepare Your TaxesA married couple sits with their tax preparer during tax season.

Tax season can be a complicated time, and the decision to have someone else prepare your taxes adds another layer of stress. While it’s a relief to have a professional handle your finances, asking the right questions is crucial to ensure your taxes are in good hands.

Landmark National Bank strives to provide expert financial advice to help you properly navigate tax season. Here are some essential questions to ask a tax preparer before moving forward with their services.

1. Are You a Certified Tax Preparer?

The first and most critical tax return question is to see their certification. Ensure that the individual or firm is legally authorized to prepare your taxes. Ask for credentials like being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Enrolled Agent (EA), or a licensed tax attorney. These certifications indicate a level of expertise and accountability.

2. What Is Your Experience in Tax Preparation?

Experience matters in deciding how to choose a tax accountant. Inquire about their history in the field, including the number of years they’ve been practicing and the types of clients they typically handle. This information will give you a sense of their expertise and whether they’re suited to your individual tax situation.

3. How Do You Keep Up With Tax Law Changes?

Tax laws are constantly evolving. A competent tax preparer should be up to date with the latest tax regulations and changes. Ask how they stay informed and adapt to new tax laws. This ensures your taxes will comply with the most recent tax codes.

4. Can You Provide References?

References or testimonials from previous clients can provide insight into your tax preparer’s reliability and effectiveness. A reputable tax preparer should be willing and able to provide references upon request.

5. How Do You Determine Your Fees?

Understanding a tax preparer’s fee structure is crucial as it prevents surprises later on. Some tax preparers charge a flat rate, while others charge based on the complexity of your tax return. Make sure you get a clear understanding of the costs involved and ensure there are no hidden fees.

6. What Kind of Tax Services Do You Offer?

Tax preparation services can vary widely. Some preparers might only fill out your tax return, while others offer comprehensive services like tax planning and advice. Knowing the range of services they provide will help you understand if they meet your needs.

7. How Do You Handle IRS Audits?

You should inquire about your tax preparer’s procedures in the event of an IRS audit. A good preparer should be willing to assist you throughout the audit process. Their response can also give you an indication of their confidence in their own skills!

8. How Do You Protect Client Data?

In an age where data breaches are common, understanding how your personal and financial information is protected is crucial. Ask about your preparer’s security measures to ensure your sensitive information remains confidential.

9. What Is Your Communication Style?

Understanding a tax preparer’s communication style is essential, especially if you have a complex tax situation. Ask about their preferred mode of communication and how often they will update you on the status of your tax preparation. If you plan on frequently getting in touch to ask a tax question, it can help to ask how long they typically take to respond.

10. Can You File Electronically?

Electronic filing is not only faster but also more secure. Make sure your tax preparer offers electronic filing options. This can also expedite your tax refund process, helping put money back in your pocket as quickly as possible.

Seek Professional Advice From Landmark National Bank

Choosing the right person to prepare your taxes is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. By asking these 10 essential questions, you can ensure your taxes are in good hands. Remember, finding a good tax preparer is about more than finding someone to fill out your forms—they should also offer peace of mind and guidance through the complex world of tax regulations.

Landmark National Bank provides professional advice on a variety of financial matters along with comprehensive services for things like checking accounts and savings accounts. Whether you’re just starting to get your finances in order or have years of money management experience, we can help! Contact Landmark National Bank or locate a bank branch near you today!

Should I Hire a CPA To Do My Taxes?

Should I Hire a CPA To Do My Taxes?

A certified public accountant (CPA) reviews financial documents with a customer.

When tax season rolls around, many people ask, “Should I hire a CPA to do my taxes?” The decision isn’t always easy due to the complexity of tax laws and the allure of maximizing deductions. Plus, hiring someone to take care of your taxes for you costs money, adding to the expenses of this stressful time of year.

Thankfully, you’re not alone. The experts at Landmark National Bank are here to help you navigate the process and understand the benefits of hiring a CPA. In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of hiring a CPA for personal taxes or your small business.

Benefits of Hiring a CPA

Expertise in Tax Law

CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) are well versed in the minutia of tax laws and regulations. They undergo rigorous training and must pass a comprehensive exam to be certified. This expertise is invaluable, especially if you have a complex tax situation, such as owning a business, having multiple income streams, or dealing with large investments.

Time Saving

Doing your taxes can be time-consuming, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the latest tax codes. A CPA can save you significant time by handling all aspects of your tax preparation and filing while you go about your regular life.

Reducing Errors

Mistakes on your tax return can be costly, leading to penalties or additional scrutiny from the IRS. CPAs are trained to be meticulous, and hiring one can significantly reduce the chances or errors on your forms.

Maximizing Deductions and Credits

A CPA can help identify deductions and credits you may not be aware of, ensuring you only pay what you owe. You also will see more money down the road, as CPAs know how to maximize your tax return.

Representation in Audits

One of the biggest reasons why hiring a CPA to do your taxes can be helpful is potential audit representation. If you’re audited, having a CPA who is familiar with your financial situation can be a huge advantage. They can represent you before the IRS, providing you with a sense of security and peace of mind.

Other Factors To Consider

Cost of Hiring a CPA

One of the primary drawbacks of hiring a CPA is the cost. CPAs typically charge more than using online tax software or filing your forms on your own. However, investing in a CPA’s services can save you money in the long run, whether you’re a small business owner or an individual. Unless you have expert fiscal knowledge yourself, a professional will likely be able to maximize your savings beyond the cost of their services.

Finding the Right Fit

Not all CPAs are created equal. Finding a CPA who is well suited to your specific needs can be a challenge. You need to ensure they have experience with situations similar to yours and that their communication style matches your preferences.

Who Should Hire a CPA?

If any of the following situations apply to you, the benefits of hiring a CPA are especially valuable:

  • Complex finances. If you have a complicated financial situation, such as freelance income, investments, or rental properties, a CPA can help.
  • Major life changes. Life events like marriage, divorce, having a child, or buying a home can significantly affect your taxes.
  • Previous tax issues. If you’ve had issues with the IRS in the past, a CPA can help you navigate these challenges and avoid future problems.
  • Small businesses. Hiring a CPA for your small business can help you maximize your company’s deductions and avoid potential tax issues.

Get Expert Advice From Landmark National Bank

Landmark National Bank provides expert assistance and financial services for a variety of needs, ranging from checking accounts and savings accounts to more complex offerings like personal loans. Whether you’re looking for a little assistance during tax season or help with other issues throughout the year, we’ve got you covered.

Contact Landmark National Bank or locate a bank branch near you to get started today!

How To Prepare for Tax Season

How To Prepare for Tax Season

A hand changes a sign from “Taxes 2022” to “Taxes 2023”

Filing taxes can feel like a daunting task every year. Curb some of the stress of tax season by preparing ahead. This blog will give you the basics of how to prepare for tax season, so you can file your taxes on time and worry-free.

How Do I File My Taxes?

There are three main ways to file a tax return: filling out the forms by hand, using tax return software, or hiring a tax preparer. Each of these methods comes with its own strengths and weaknesses that may hold more or less appeal based on the complexity of your tax return.

  • Paper return. While paper returns avoid possible issues with internet security or connectivity, it is the longest to process for the IRS and can be prone to errors.
  • Online return. An online return quickens the process but requires you to put in the legwork with electronic files. There may also be technical difficulties.
  • Tax preparer. While alleviating some of the labor, tax preparers can vary in their expense and experience.

Should I File My Taxes Online?

In recent years, filing your taxes online has become easier and faster than filing a paper return. You can find an abundance of resources online for software and tax preparation services, but know that you do not have to pay to file your taxes.

Some websites and apps may charge you for using their software, but sending a tax return to the IRS should never cost money. You can learn more about filing taxes online for free through the IRS website.

What Do You Need To File Taxes?

You will need a combination of personal and financial information for your tax documents. For ease of access, we’ve compiled some of the common items you’ll need.

  • Social Security numbers for yourself, as well as for your spouse and dependents, if applicable
  • W-2 form from each employer you had in the previous year
  • 1099 forms, if applicable
  • Retirement account contributions
  • Property taxes and mortgage interest
  • Charitable donations
  • State and local taxes you paid
  • Educational expenses
  • Unreimbursed medical bills
  • Last year’s federal and state tax returns

When Should I File My Taxes?

As soon as you have the proper documents and information you can begin on your return paperwork. However, the soonest you can file it with the IRS is in late January. In 2023, both federal and Kansas tax returns are due Tuesday, April 28.

While this date might seem far away, tax deadlines always arrive quicker than we expect. It’s important to begin thinking and preparing now so the process can go smoother later. However, if you run into issues obtaining the correct documents or you simply let time get away from you, it’s possible to request an extension on your tax deadline.

Take the Stress Out of Banking With Landmark National Bank

Whether you’re preparing your taxes or receiving your return, you’ll need a bank that has your back. Landmark offers e-statements, so you’ll have 18 months of statements available online to help document your expenses from the previous year. Turn to the professionals at Landmark National Bank for all your banking needs; we are dedicated to providing customer-focused banking solutions to bring you success and stability every year. Find a branch near you and open an account today!