It's always beneficial to have a tax advisor, especially if they are a member of a professional organization such as the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or the American Academy of Lawyers (CPA). These organizations have codes of ethics, professional conduct requirements and various certification programs. When looking for tax help, there are other factors to consider besides researching a tax preparer. The best tax preparers will be available to take your call, respond to your email, or welcome you for a visit even after tax season is over and your return is on record.
Taxes are made up of both a state and local part, and each local tax jurisdiction has its own specific rate. Tax advisors can help clients find efficient ways to legally reduce their tax liability, calculate taxes on various investment portfolios, and identify applicable deductions and credits. To be effective in providing advice on current tax issues, advisors must stay up to date with the latest federal and state tax requirements. The IRS provides tips to avoid unscrupulous tax preparers and is committed to investigating paid tax return preparers who act improperly.
Tax advisors may include certified public accounts (CPA), tax attorneys, enrolled agents, and some financial advisors. The Office of the University Comptroller at the University of South Florida (USF) provides advisors to assist departments with a variety of tax matters. Anyone can prepare a paid tax return as long as they have an IRS tax preparer identification number (PTIN). If you have been financially affected by a tax return preparer's misconduct or improper tax preparation practices, you can file a complaint with the IRS.
A tax advisor's relationship with a company seeking to merge or acquire another company may differ from their professional relationship with an executor of assets who seeks to minimize wealth taxes. You should expect your preparer to be knowledgeable in tax preparation and to file your return accurately. It's important for advisors to keep up with legislative changes, developing tax issues, and recently evolving tax planning strategies in order to provide the best advice. If your tax preparer doesn't offer an electronic tax return, it may be a sign that they aren't doing as much tax preparation as they should be.
The services of a tax advisor are generally hired to minimize taxes owed while still complying with the law in complicated financial situations. Don't get lost in the fog of ever-changing regulations - hire an experienced advisor who can help you navigate the complexities of filing taxes.