Friday Four: Selecting a Tax Preparer

Recently I hosted a Turbo Tax Party. I was able to offer discount codes, tax tips , a spiffy -information infused folder and a healthy snack. It was a pretty nice HouseParty*.  Because we had friends and family out of town that wanted the information, we did a Periscope and created an online party on FaceBook. (You can still join in for great tips and tax jokes) Whether you use a family friend/non certified or a CPA, Enrolled agent, etc., you should know what to look for.

EA is a tax professional licensed by the IRS through a special enrollment exam or after working for the IRS for five years.They’re required to take continuing education courses in taxes every three years, and, generally speaking, may charge less than CPAs.

There are several good signs for a good tax preparer, but not many for a bad one. For example, Good tax preparers will ask for all your W-2, 1099 and 1098 forms as well as other records and receipts to verify income, expenses and credits.  Preparers who are willing to e-file returns using paystubs in place of W-2s are in direct violation of IRS rules and regulations. Did you know that? Well here’s 4 more tips to use to keep you from being audited.

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  1. Ask The Big Question                                                                                                                Ask for referrals. Easy one right, but you’d be surprise at the number of people that don’t do that. Some of the biggest brands in the industry have shaky branch offices and preparers.  So don’t let the name and office space fool you.

Note that you don’t have to go to a tax preparer’s office to do your return. Tax return preparation can be handled completely online by email. There are no laws preventing you from using an accountant online. Thus, you can use a preparer in another city or even another state.

2. They Do NOT have to be licensed.                                                                                                           “The court ruled that Congress never gave the IRS the authority to license tax preparers, and the IRS can’t give itself that power.”Only a few states – such as California, Oregon, Maryland and New York – have licensing or registration requirements for paid tax preparers. In all other states, practically anyone can prepare your federal tax return and charge a fee. See theRegistered Tax Return Preparers (RTRP) program required preparers to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), pass a competency test, pay an annual application fee, and complete fifteen hours of continuing education annually. Not everyone wants or must do that. It doesn’t automatically rule them as incompetent, scammers or, out right abusers.

3.Client Security

Unfortunately, the tax preparer industry has not remained immune from the ever-increasing problem of security breaches.  Never hesitate to ask a preparer how they safeguard client confidentiality in the form of physical and electronic security of their clients’ information and records.  If the answer is not to your satisfaction then walk away.
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4.PTINS and E-filing

A paid preparer must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and if they prepare and file more than 10 returns for clients they must file electronically.  The client copy of the tax return should show the preparer’s name and PTIN in the signature area of page two of the Form 1040.  Never agree to do business with a tax preparer who refuses to provide their clients with copies of their tax returns.

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Look for someone with at least seven years’ experience. You want someone who’s handled a variety of tax situations, in both good and bad economic times.

Often, the best way to find a tax pro is to get referrals from friends or business associates. If this doesn’t work, there are a number of professional organizations that have online databases of tax preparers.

 

Oh, and please don’t overlook this IRS page and this one.too!

The reality is, taxes can be hard, and it’s getting harder. The Tax Code is becoming increasingly complicated. And tax preparers make it easier to navigate. Tax time alone can be a stressful. That’s why many taxpayers hire someone to do their taxes for them. It’s important to choose the right preparer, otherwise you may find yourself in the precise legal trouble you were trying to avoid in the first place!

Keep It Right- Keep It Tight!

Jabela

Llama, Llama -No Dependent Tax Drama!

Let’s go through this together: You just filed your taxes. You wait for the approval and “BAM”, it’s rejected! Someone has filed your child on their tax return. The nerves right? Well guess what? That happens all of the time. It has happened to me before. The question is not why. You and I both know the answer to that. Take the green light and get your money back! Print

If you are the one who deserves to claim your child, stick to it.

Only one taxpayer may generally claim any one person as a dependent on a tax return (except, of course, in the case of a married couple filing jointly). If you file your tax return and someone else has already claimed your dependent, then the IRS will apply tiebreaker rules.

There may be an exception when the splitting of tax benefits for a dependent is detailed in a legal divorce decree. If you have such a decree, you will need to file your tax return on paper and attach the relevant pages of the divorce decree, including the first page and the signature page.

There are two types of dependents, qualifying children and qualifying relatives, and both have different requirements.

In order to claim someone as a qualifying child, he or she must

  • Be your biological or adopted child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, half sibling, stepsibling, or a descendant of one of these
  • Be under age 19, under age 24 if a full-time student, or any age if permanently and totally disabled
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  • Be unmarried, or married but not filing a joint return
  • Have lived with you for at least half the year, unless absent due to illness, education, business, vacation, or military service
  • Not have provided more than half of his or her own support

In order to claim someone as a qualifying relative, he or she must

  • Have lived with you all year as a member of your household, or be one of the following family members: child, parent, sibling, stepparent, stepchild, stepsibling, half sibling, grandparent, grandchild, child-in-law, parent-in-law, sibling-in-law, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  • Be unmarried, or married but not filing a joint return
  • Not be a qualifying child of you or someone else
  • Have a gross income of less than $3,800
  • Have more than half of their total support for the year provided by you

Here’s how to straighten it out. Forget about finding out who did it, even criminals have a right to their privacy in America. Instead file a paper return (mail in your tax return), along with a cover letting explaining why you qualify to claim your daughter. Also, include copies of evidence claiming you have the right to claim your child.i
Once the IRS receives this, they will review it and make a decision.

The IRS rules are applied in the following order:

  1. Relationship Test: If only one of the taxpayers claiming the child is the child’s parent, then the child will be the qualifying child of the parent.

  2. Residence Test: If both parents claim the child but do not file jointly, then the child will be the qualifying child of the parent with whom the child lived for a longer time during the year.

  3. Income Test: If the child lived with both parents for an equal amount of time, then the child will be the qualifying child of the parent with the higher adjusted gross income (AGI).

  4. No Parent Can Claim: If no parent qualifies to claim the child, the child will be the qualifying child of the person claiming the child who has the highest AGI.

  5. No Parent Chooses to Claim: If either parent qualifies to claim the child, but they choose not to, the child will be the qualifying child of the claiming person with the highest AGI, but only if their AGI is higher than that of either parent (if the parents are married and filing jointly, use one half of their combined AGI).

  6. Special Rule for Unmarried Parents: If the parents are not married but lived together with their child all year and the child meets all qualifying tests for both parents, then the parents may decide which parent will claim the child as a dependent.

Dependent rules also apply to other benefits, such as tax credits. Many of these credits are available only if you have qualified dependents. For example, both the child tax credit and the earned-income tax credit rely on these rules. The best thing you can do to prevent someone else from claiming your dependent is to file your taxes as early as possible. That way your e-filed return will be accepted and theirs will be rejected. Then you’ll get your refund on time and they will be audited. Yes….wining!

Want to hear it from them? Call 1-800-829-1040

Happy Taxes,

QC Supermom

Tax Man cometh & I don’t care!

taxIf you didn’t finish your taxes, get an tax extension and relax! No need to rush now!

It is an extension of time to file your tax return. not an extension of time to pay your tax bill. FYI Any taxpayer can get an automatic 6-month tax return extension by filing or efiling IRS Form 4868. It is easy to prepare and efile your federal tax extension on efile.com, and the online software generates Form 4868 for you.

The Extension form is is >Click Here!<  AND while you’re at it, grab a few freebies to get your day flowing >click here!<

We completed our returns and now it’s time to relax! Off to Sam Ash we go! We are very lucky to be able to enjoy loads of FREE kid friendly events in Charlotte. When a QCSAH mom invites us out to a new location we are super excited to go. This morning, the invite was for a music class.DIGITAL CAMERANo worries here! We introduced ourselves and then Mr Nigel opened up a fresh can of “Music Literacy Fun!” Which was a great tie in with the store as it seemed to be a very customer service driven company. -(Good for them to make visitors WANT TO BUY)

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My crew was very familiar with many of the instruments in the store, yet it was great to see the sparkles in their eyes as they were engaged to dance, sing and touch!DIGITAL CAMERA

Mr. Nigel is a fantastic artist, with a wonderful voice and incredible energy. He not only kept my lil ones attention, but he also taught them something about their own body and how it can make some of the best music ever (along with the help of a handy dandy guitar)!DIGITAL CAMERAOur children LOVED him! Follow him here:

Website http://www.mrnigelandfriends.com

Press Contact 704.778.0989 • mrnigelandfriends@gmail.com

We can’t wait till next Monday! It’s free. Join us!nigel Till the next beat, QC Supermom