How To Choose The Right Tax Preparation

What to do when your tax preparer screws up

Tax return mistakes are often accidental, like when a client tells the preparer a wrong amount, or the preparer calculates incorrectly. Other times, mistakes are downright deceitful (think: inflating deductions to get a client a bigger refund or omitting information to maximize the federal earned income credit).

Though enrolled agents, CPAs and tax attorneys are governed by standards of professional responsibility and IRS ethics, more than half of the 79 million returns filed by paid tax preparers are not bound by those rules.

Taxpayers can take a few steps to protect themselves from lengthy IRS and state agency battles and pricey penalties, if they’ve been bamboozled by a preparer

Don’t sign the return without carefully reviewing it

At the end of your tax return, there is a statement that under penalty of perjury, the taxpayer believes the information to be true and accurate.

This can hurt you when it comes time to defend your return if there is a serious mistake. If you don′t understand something or think it may be incorrect, ask the preparer to explain or correct it before signing.

Use a licensed professional

Anyone can legally prepare a tax return for compensation as long as they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS, which costs $50 and takes 15 minutes to obtain.

Earlier this year, the Senate Finance Committee passed legislation designed to help curb identity theft and tax refund fraud, but an amendment containing recommendations for protecting the public from incompetent and fraudulent tax preparers, including requiring unlicensed PTIN holders to inform taxpayers about the differences between preparers, was shot down

Pay a flat fee

Avoid tax preparers who offer to take a percentage of your tax refund, rather than a flat fee, Ambrose said. They are incentivized to boost deductions where they may not be accurate or legal, and are eventually caught by the IRS.



Avoiding the Bad Apples

To avoid having these sorts of problems with a tax preparer, research candidates before selecting one. If possible, get referrals from people you know who can vouch for their abilities and ethics. In addition, the IRS offers a directory where you can look up professionals with specific credentials, such as attorneys and certified public accountants.

And keep in mind that just because you’re hiring someone else to do most of the numbers-crunching and box-checking, it doesn’t mean you should take a totally hands-off approach to your tax return. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility—and you’re the one on the hook for any taxes and penalties that arise from an inaccurate return.3 Make sure you review everything carefully, from the figures to the particular forms, before signing your name on that dotted line.



Can I Sue A Tax Preparer?

Suing a tax preparer is often the last resort since the taxpayer would have to incur significant legal fees. However, if the amount in question is substantial, taking the matter to the court may provide relief from undue taxes and fees. Moreover, if the tax preparer is not registered by the IRS or state-licensed, the only recourse is legal action

You can file a standard professional malpractice complaint with the state court in your jurisdiction.

To avoid dealing with these problems, it is best to research the candidates and find one that suits your needs. For example, if you’re dealing with complex financial situations, you may need regular consultations. IRS has a website where you can find professionals with valid credentials who are up to the task.


Choose return preparers wisely

It is important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare a tax return. Well-intentioned taxpayers can be misled by preparers who don’t understand taxes or who mislead people into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to claim. Scam preparers often do this to increase their fee.

Here are a few tips to consider to help avoid fraudsters:

Look for a preparer who is available year-round. In the event questions come up about a tax return, taxpayers may need to contact the preparer after the filing season is over.

Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Paid tax return preparers are required to register with the IRS, have a PTIN and include it on tax returns.

Inquire whether the tax return preparer has a professional credential (enrolled agent, certified public accountant or attorney), belongs to a professional organization or attends continuing education classes. Because tax law can be complex, competent tax preparers remain up-to-date on tax topics.

Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund or boast bigger refunds than their competition. Don’t give tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information to a preparer if merely inquiring about their services and fees. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous preparers have used this information to improperly file returns without the taxpayer’s permission.

Make sure the preparer offers IRS e-file and ask to e-file the tax return. Paid preparers who do taxes for more than 10 clients generally must file electronically. Since electronic filing began in the 1980s, the IRS has processed more than 1.5 billion e-filed individual tax returns. It’s the safest and most accurate way to file.


Letters to Preparers

Another tier in our outreach and educational efforts is sending letters to specific preparers. We look at the number of returns with a high likelihood of refundable credit and HOH filing status errors completed by the same preparer. And, we send letters to preparers who have a high number of these returns. We send letters based on the previous filing season before the next filing season starts and we send letters during the filing season for the current year.

The letters:

  • State we believe the preparer completed inaccurate claims,
  • Highlight the consequences of preparing inaccurate claims,
  • Outline preparer due diligence responsibilities,
  • Provide tips on preparing accurate returns and point to online refundable credit and hoh filing status tools, information and other resources, and
  • Inform preparer that we are monitoring their future returns.

The Pros Of Free Checking Accountant

Good Accounting Practices for Nonprofits

As an accountant, it’s important to be on the top of your financial game. Understanding healthy nonprofit accounting practices, the best nonprofit accounting software to use, the latest rules and regulations, and protecting your organization’s financial data is key

Have Internal Policies and Controls

Fraud is a real concern for nonprofit organizations. In fact, 40% of NPO professionals say they put “some or minor effort into helping prevent fraud”, according to Abila’s 2016 Nonprofit Finance Study.

Assign Different Financial Practices to Different People

Similar to the above, you want to protect your organization from any type of possible fraud. An easy way to do that is to assign different financial tasks to different people. Why do this?

Use Accounting Software Designed for Nonprofits

Nonprofits have unique accounting challenges. And the best way to solve those challenges is to use nonprofit accounting software. Nonprofit accounting software can streamline, simplify, and strengthen your budgeting, forecasting, HR management, grant management, and fundraising. The software can also provide internal controls over your financial data, helping you secure and protect your information.

Create an Annual Operating Budget

Every organization needs a budget, whether you’re a nonprofit or for-profit. Each year you should create a realistic operating budget that you can adhere to as much as possible.


The Future of Accounting: Will it Still Exist

With the imminent rise of artificial intelligence, a wide variety of professions will be at risk of becoming obsolete within the next 20 years. With this in mind, many business owners and number crunchers alike are asking themselves, “what is the future of accounting?”

The robots are coming

Let’s be honest, accountants have a tough job earning the career respect they deserve. Few children admit to wanting to be an accountant when they grow up, while firefighter, teacher and astronaut remain at the top of the list. Even lawyers, who get similar flak, have an easier ride than the humble accountant, who tends to be pigeonholed and stereotyped as, (can I say it?) boring!

The forest AND the trees

Another thing I’ve learned through running a business is that I’m really not a details person. If you’re a type N on the Myers-Briggs scale like me (25% of the population), you often miss the details in favour of observing patterns and seeing the bigger picture. I need to work closely with people who do details well. Finding people with complementary abilities is crucial to building a successful team.

Accounting firms need to evolve to survive

One thing we know for sure is that technology is changing the future of accounting in business. Cloud accounting packages like Xero and QBO have made accounting software finally accessible from anywhere on any device. But they also present it in a way business owners can actually understand! Running Sage on a dusty computer in the corner of the office is now, for most, a thing of the past.

The role of the accountant is about giving business owners the peace of mind that they’re not making a horrible mistake somewhere and ending up with an unexpectedly large tax bill, fines, or even a prison sentence. Having an outside third party (human) perspective on how the books are being run is such a valuable asset that I can’t imagine that need will ever go away, no matter how automated things become.


Accountant Top Needed Skills

A well-crafted resume skills section, highlighting your relevant skills for an accountant position, will help your resume beat the applicant tracking system (ATS), which is the first step to getting your application noticed. Use the accountant top skills and proficiencies below to help you effectively write your resume.

Accountant top skills & proficiencies:


Corporate finance

Attention to detail


Reporting research results


Time management

Data entry management

Basic math


Planning and organizing

Scheduling and monitoring

Communication skills

Problem analysis and problem-solving skills



Active learning

Clerical knowledge

Proficiency with Microsoft Office



Excel skills wannabe accountants need to know

Excel is an incredibly powerful tool for accountants, and it is a key skill that any budding accountant should try to become familiar with. If you’re a newly qualified accountant, an accountancy student or are a business owner who wants a better handle on their finances, here are some of our top Excel tips for accounting and finance professionals.


VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP are two of the most useful Excel functions for accountants. These functions let you search a table of data and give all the appropriate information for an individual set of data based on only one part of it.


Another important excel formula for accountants and finance professionals is HLOOKUP. Taken directly from the Office site, here’s what the HLOOKUP formula does

Paste options that could prevent errors

This is a useful excel skill that everyone needs to know! Have you ever hit ‘paste’ and been left with a sheet full of errors? Try Paste > Special instead! You’ll be able to transpose data, copy data validation and more with paste options. Click the drop-down menu next to the paste button to see what options are available, or paste as special when you right click.

Learn keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are essential for anyone who uses Excel regularly. They improve efficiency by turning multiple-click processes into one easy button press (including the one above).


Big ambitions – starting your own practice

It may be just a dream when you are studying, but once you qualify you may seriously consider setting up on your own. Iwona Tokc-Wilde looks at what this entails

Despite the global economic turmoil of the last few years, the number of business start-ups has been rising steadily around the world, with some countries reporting record figures.

As business confidence around the world is now growing, both trends – the rise in business start-ups and the corresponding need for small accountancy and bookkeeping firms – are likely to continue, so this is a big opportunity for those nearing qualification.

Compliance is key

First of all, you must comply with all the rules and regulations required for opening and running an accountancy practice, including being fully licensed to take on this sort of work.

ACCA’s Global Practising Regulations 2003 require any member who is a principal in an accountancy practice to hold an ACCA practising certificate (students are not permitted to start and run a public practice), even if the member holds a local licence for the region in which they practise. ACCA’s definition of public practice work extends beyond audit and other regulated work, to incorporate all types of work generally associated with an accountancy practice, but excluding bookkeeping services.

How Payroll Service Could Help Your Company

Considerations to Make While Choosing A Payroll Service

Determining how to choose a payroll service for your business can be difficult. There are many payroll software providers and features from which you can choose.

Whether this is your first time looking for payroll software or you want to switch software programs, you need to know what to consider. Knowing what to look for in a payroll service can help you make a good purchase.

We want you to make an excellent payroll service choice the first time. That’s why we created affordable payroll software that is easy to use. But, we also want you to make superior business decisions, which is why we created a guide about how to choose a payroll service

A few of the points you can learn about in this guide include types of payroll software, software costs, and software security.

In each of the 10 sections, we provide you with a list of questions to ask yourself. The questions are helpful tools to assist you in thinking about your needs and what type of software will work best for your business.

The Most Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Payroll Provider

Let’s be honest—most payroll companies seem like they’re doing the same thing. That’s why it’s SUPER overwhelming to figure out which company to go with. Beyond looking at the basic features and price tag, what else makes a payroll service stand out?

Over the years, I’ve helped many small business owners weigh the pros and cons of providers to find their perfect payroll software. In my years of research, I’ve looked at A LOT of providers and seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. After reviewing nearly every provider out there, I’ve learned that a few things can make or break your payroll experience.

Easy to use

Some payroll platforms look like they haven’t been updated since 2004. Think small, barely readable text, menus nested within menus, and the saddest, drabbiest grey you’ve ever seen.

Made for small business owners

Some payroll companies are geared towards accountants, and the language within the platform reflects that. Jargon. Technical language. Words you’ve never heard before. After your first payroll run, you can feel so overwhelmed that you never want to do it again.

Grows with your business

Any time you invest in financial software, choose the option that will grow with your business. This means looking for the features you need right now and the features you’ll need one, three, and five years down the road (even if you’re not there yet)

Choosing a Payroll System: Factors to Help You Decide

If you’ve decided you want to use software to run your business’s payroll, you might worry about the difficulty of choosing a payroll system. To weed through the many services out there, you need to know what to look for.

Choosing a Payroll System

Using payroll software can save you time and money so you can focus on growing your business.

Online vs. desktop software

There are two types of software to choose from before you compare payroll services: online and desktop software. What you choose depends on the type of business you have, your lifestyle, and your personal preference.

Online software: Online software, or cloud payroll software, means you can access payroll anytime and anywhere. All you need is internet access to run payroll, which is beneficial if you are constantly on the go. With online software, you can access your payroll records from more than one device. Log in to a computer at your business or your mobile device at home.

Desktop software: For desktop software, you will download the software program onto your computer. You can only run payroll on the computer that has the software. You do not need internet access to run payroll with this option. 

How to Choose a Payroll Service for Your Business

There are a lot of options available when choosing a payroll service. You may be researching everything from payroll software to bookkeepers. When selecting a provider, consider the size of your business and the complexity of payroll operations. In our list, we explain the different types of payroll services available, so you can make the right decision for your business.

Learn What Different Payroll Providers Do

To make the best choice for payroll, you’ll need first to understand the different types of payroll outsourcing services that are out there. This list defines payroll software, bookkeepers, PEOs, and local payroll services.

Payroll Software

Payroll software are systems that you can use to help manage your payroll or some aspects of it—paychecks and payroll taxes (payments and filing). There are both online options and those you can install on your PC; please note, many employers today prefer online providers for the convenience and ability to access it from anywhere. Some of the more quality software has a team of professionals who will assist you with setup, compliance questions, and one-off issues


Bookkeepers are the obvious choice for some employers when they already have one keeping their financial records in order. The important thing to consider is the bookkeeper’s level of payroll knowledge. Some are experts in compliance and stay abreast of federal and state laws governing how employees and taxes should be paid; they may offer a guarantee to cover any penalties that arise. Others are more accustomed to the financial side of payroll, calculations, payments, and maintaining records; these bookkeepers can ensure your employees are paid but may run into some legal snags along the way.

Professional Employment Organizations

Professional employment organizations (PEO) are companies that partner with you on employing your workers. While you manage day-to-day operations, the PEO handles payments, taxes, deductions, and makes sure you don’t break any payroll laws.

How to Choose the Best Payroll Service for your Company

Every company has to pay their employees. Sometimes the most experienced business owners can find themselves spending a large amount of time trying to process payroll monthly. Outsourcing this function to a payroll provider can be very beneficial and help reduce costs. However, finding the right one, can be challenging.

Checklist: Before choosing a payroll provider, you will want to make a checklist of what your company needs. This will help you prepare questions to ask a provider once you start researching your options. Some questions to ask yourself are: Do you need a payroll provider that can process multi-state payroll and handle different state taxes? How many employees will they be processing payroll for? Do you need additional HR services such as benefits, onboarding, etc.? It is important to be open to other options. They may offer a service you didn’t know you could benefit from.

Ask a lot of questions: It is important to ask a lot of questions when researching a payroll provider. You will want to essentially interview them to make sure they are the best fit for your company. Review your checklist and make sure you are asking questions that cover all of your company’s needs. Make sure to ask questions that touch on the provider’s pricing, software capabilities, taxes, reports, customization, etc.

Consider the Benefits: Using a payroll provider can help you in many ways.

Reduce Cost/Risk: By being the employer of record, the payroll provider will reduce your company’s risk.

Offload Duties: The payroll provider can assist with the onboarding process, benefits and payroll processing. Offloading these functions will allow your HR team to focus on other functions & projects that are important to your organization.

Regulation Changes: Payroll providers stay up to date with changes in government regulations and will avoid any cost/penalties.

Payroll Knowledge Risk: If you have one person doing your payroll and they end up leaving, this could cause a lot of risk. Using a payroll provider, you will not have to worry about that burden.