How to pick a tax professional

(BPT) - Choosing the right tax professional is an important decision. Their expertise could positively or negatively impact your refund, the largest single financial transaction many people have all year. Tax pros review your financial info and have access to your personal data. Unfortunately, not all tax preparers have your best interest in mind. The IRS is even warning people to watch out for unethical “ghost” preparers who are looking to make a fast buck through fraudulent refund claims and direct deposit scams.

H&R Block tax professionals want to see the communities where their 10,000 offices are located thrive. Our purpose is to provide help and inspire confidence in our clients and communities everywhere. Here’s how you can have confidence knowing you found the right tax professional to help you:

Your tax preparer should know what they are doing

Inquire about the tax preparer’s credentials, years of experience and continuing education. Do they have the tax knowledge to accurately prepare your tax return? Are they up-to-date on the latest tax law changes?

H&R Block has tax professionals with experience to help with your specific situation, whether that is seasonal work, multiple jobs, the earned income tax credit or city taxes. H&R Block tax professionals have on average 12 years of experience and hundreds of hours of training. Before any new H&R Block tax professional prepares a single return, they’ve undergone more than 60 hours of initial training — and all returning tax professionals complete an additional 30 hours of training.

Your tax preparer should keep your information safe

Ask questions of your preparer to get a better understanding of how your preparer protects your personal information and never email tax documents. Criminals are increasingly targeting tax professionals, not only to steal client data but also to hack into a tax preparer’s network and steal the personal information of all clients that have filed with that preparer. This is one more thing to review when choosing your paid tax preparer.

H&R Block clients benefit from our digital solutions and the relationship with their tax professional. MyBlock, our client portal, enables secure document upload, private messaging with the tax professional, and gives visibility on return status. You may also be able to digitally sign your return and finish without coming into an office. With MyBlock, you can upload and organize your documents so everything is ready to file. MyBlock is free for anyone to create an account and use.

Your tax preparer should be trustworthy and provide upfront pricing

Beware of tax preparers who say they can obtain larger-than-average refunds. Refund estimations should be based on deductions and credits you are legally permitted to claim. The IRS says these preparers may be looking to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund. For any direct deposit refund, taxpayers should make sure both the routing and bank account number on the completed tax return are correct. Beware of improper actions taken by tax preparers such as not reporting all of your income or claiming inflated or false deductions.

Make sure you know the cost before tax prep begins. H&R Block believes people should know how much tax preparation will cost before they begin. That’s why we were the first major brand in the industry to offer upfront, transparent pricing. Our network of 70,000 tax professionals live and work in your community and understand your unique needs. We are committed to providing help, whether at tax time or throughout the year in the communities we serve.

You can visit us at hrblock.com or stop by your nearest office — it’s easy and quick.

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