How to get the best tax professional

The way to choose a tax professional? That's an individual choice, depending upon your requirements and expectations. But here is a quick checklist to guide you through the process.

Evaluate Your Needs.

1. If calculating your end-of-year tax duties requires basic information only – employment income reported on W-2s, mortgage interest and property taxes – and you aren't searching for planning and/or financial advice, then a federal tax firm such as H&R Block or Jackson Hewlett can fit the bill.

How to get the best tax professional

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2. Are you self-indulgent? Do you have investment income, own rental property? Are you a part of a limited partnership, own S-corporation inventory? Do you have capital gains or capital losses? Did you take money from a pension or annuity? Did you get foreign income? Have a casualty loss or investment costs?

Selecting a Professional.

There are three forms of tax professional. The following descriptions can help you decide which type is right for you.

1. Certified Public Accountants are licensed by the Florida State Board of Accountancy. They're tested on accounting, auditing and taxation knowledge, and must meet continuing education requirements specified by the state board. These professionals may represent you before the Internal Revenue Service and can practice only in the nations where they hold licenses.

2. Lawyers can represent you before the Internal Revenue Service, but not all lawyers have the extensive knowledge required to prepare a complicated return.

3. Enrolled Agents (EAs) are professionals who have demonstrated technical competence in the area of taxation. Enrolled Agents can represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service.