It may be a good idea to hire a professional when dealing with the IRS. There are a lot of policies and definitions that are confusing to the average person, and a legitimate professional will be well informed and educated of such procedures. They should be able to help you no matter the nature of your problem. However, there are many scam artists out there only looking to gain profits at your expense. So how do you tell a real from a fake tax professional? Though the task may seem daunting, doing your homework beforehand can save you a large headache.
Knowing certain ethical standards and licensing requirements is a good start. Also, proof of their continuing education can help. Many scammers will not be able to satisfy all of these requirements, thus allowing you to weed out the fakes. Look at the descriptions below and see if your tax professional is really there to help you!
Ethical Standards – For many states, passing an ethics examination or taking classes administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is a requirement to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). A few others accept other more specific forms of proof depending on the state.
Practice Rights – A good tax professional does not have any restrictions; they should be able to represent you no matter what level the problem is with the IRS. They should be able to do such things as assisting with tax debt resolution, audits, and appeals.
Education – Most states require a tax professional to complete at least 120 hours total of educational courses every three years. Completing at least 20 hours each year until the 120 total is complete is also a requirement to be considered ‘continuing education’. However, CPAs are not required to have any continuing education.