Interview Questions for Tax Preparers

Few people actually sit down for an interview with a tax preparer, outside of "Here's my last return. Do you think you could handle it?" Even if you want someone to simply put you out of your misery and do your return before your head explodes, you will want to go a little bit deeper. Remember, too, that the reason most tax preparers don't face interview questions is that the customer comes in around tax time with an immediate problem. The best time to be shopping for a tax preparer is right after the close of tax season, around the time you are thinking, "I never want to go through the pain of filing on my own ever again." That way, you can contact potential advisors early and take the time to get complete information.

Here are the questions you should ask:

Your First Meeting with a Tax Advisor

Here are the questions you will want to answer as you go about selecting and working with a financial planner. How long have you been preparing tax returns? Tax law is always changing, but experience counts for something. Think back to the first time you faced any tax form on your own, and you'll understand why you don't want to be any preparer's test drive into a new area of the tax code. Looking at my return from last year, how do I compare to your average client? Am I more or less complex, or about the same? Bring previous tax returns to an initial interview so that the advisor gets an idea of what is involved and can accurately forecast a cost. By asking how you compare to a typical client, you should find out what concerns the advisor might have in preparing your returns. ("Most of my clients don't have self-employment income [or fill-in-the-blank unique need]" is a big red flag.) Get the advisor to describe his or her average client, using specifics of age, family situation, average income, and so on. His idea of "average" may come from the paperworkâ
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 2020. Content published with author's permission.

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