There’s an accountant shortage. Here’s how to vet your tax preparer, according to the IRS

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There’s an accountant shortage. Here’s how to vet your tax preparer, according to the IRS


 

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Why it may be harder to find an accountant

Accounting bachelor’s degree completions have been falling about 3% every year since 2015, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The number of new candidates sitting in for the certified public accountant exams has also been declining since 2016, the AICPA found.

To address the decline of new professionals in the field and “expand the CPA pipeline,” the format of the CPA exam will be different in 2024, Henry Grzes, lead manager for tax practice and ethics with the AICPA, recently told Tech Zone Daily.

“That’s the reason the exam was changed: to allow more people to have that designation. The CPA designation is a very important standard,” Grzes said.

Here are five ways to vet a tax preparer, according to the IRS:

1. Make sure they have a PTIN

Always ensure the tax preparer you are hiring for the service is registered with a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number. Anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns is required to have a PTIN by law.

Confirm that the professional will both sign the return and include their PTIN.

“Not signing a tax return is a red flag that a paid preparer is likely not to be trusted,” according to the IRS.

2. Confirm availability

Ideally, you want a preparer who is available year-round, and who won’t disappear after tax season.

“If questions come up about a tax return, taxpayers may need to contact the preparer after the filing season is over,” the IRS notes.

3. Understand the preparer’s credentials

4. Review the preparer’s history

5. Ask about fees



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