Finding The Right Accountant/Tax Preparer Candidates

Aside from asking friends or relations who does their taxes or walking into a storefront tax-preparation shop, the groups behind the main credentials and designations for tax preparers all have online programs to help you find a pro in your area. Some also have telephone services. Not only can you use these services to find an advisor, but you can use the same contacts to verify the credentials of any advisor you meet with, so that if a friend recommends an enrolled agent, you can make sure the person's qualification remains in good standing. Start your search for a tax advisor by contacting:

Your state society of CPAs is another good resource, and you can get the contact details through the AICPA website.
The more localized database may not be any better for your search, but it typically is better when checking an advisor's background, as most problems with a CPA tend to be reported first at the state level and may be settled before ever going any further. Referrals from all of these groups should not be considered endorsements, just a list of practitioners in your area. Some agencies require advisors to pay a fee in order to get any referrals from the group's website; that doesn't mean the referral is bad, but it does suggest that the referral database will be incomplete, in that advisors who don't pay the fee may not show up on the list. If there is a discrepancy, talk to a real person at the organization to get the scoop.
By Chuck Jaffe
Chuck Jaffe is a senior columnist and host of two weekly podcasts at MarkWatch. He has also been a guest speaker on several television and radio shows.

Copyrighted 2016. Content published with author's permission.

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