Things to know before choosing your tax return preparer

Tax professionals have different skills and expertise in the subject. There are many kinds of tax return preparers with credentials.
The Government of India has introduced Tax Return Preparers Scheme to train unemployed and persons to assist taxpayers in preparing their income tax returns. The scheme has been launched in the country to help the common people.
There are about 100 centers in more than 80 cities throughout the country. The scheme proposes to achieve the following objects:
(a) It will minimize the expenses of compliance for taxpayers and encourage them to obey the tax laws;
(b) It will provide self-employment opportunities to unemployed persons all over the country.

Things to remember:

One should keep in mind the following points while choosing someone to prepare his tax return:
1. Check his qualifications – A tax preparer should have a prescribed qualification under the Income Tax Act, 1961. Check whether he is a Registered Tax Return Preparer.
2. Find out his service fees – Avoid choosing preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund. Make sure any refund due is sent to your bank account and not into his bank account.
3. Check the facility of electronic filing – Any tax preparer must know how to file the returns electronically, unless you opt to file a manual return. Presently thousands of tax returns have been safely processed since the introduction of e-filing.
4. Check whether your tax preparer is accessible – Make sure you will be able to reach out your tax preparer after filing the return even after the due date, if it is required to do so. Provide all records to enable him to prepare your tax return. Efficient tax return preparers will ask you many questions to determine your exact income and your expenses, deductions, etc.
5. Check your return – Do not sign a blank return. Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank return. Go through the whole return before signing it. If necessary, ask questions to him. Make sure you understand all details of the return before signing it. Though your preparer signs your return, you are responsible for the details of information furnished in your return.
6. Collect a copy of your return from your preparer – It is advisable to leave your preparer’s office after having a copy of your filed return. It may be required in future. You should receive a copy within a reasonable time following your appointment. If your preparer does not provide one within time, it might indicate a time management problem. You should always keep a copy for your future records.
Remember Tax Evasion is a crime which is punishable up to 5 years imprisonment as well as fine. Check it out whether the person you have entrusted has filed the return diligently so that you can protect yourself from facing many odds. Stay away from abusive tax preparers and report to the Income Tax Department against such person if you find one.