Tax returns can become very complicated very quickly. A small mistake can easily lead to a lengthy extended audit that becomes a paperwork nightmare for your ministry. If you are not confident about doing your church’s taxes correctly, you should certainly consider hiring a professional tax preparer to ensure your return is done accurately. The peace of mind is well worth the initial cost. For those of you who decide to use a tax preparer, here are some tips to help you make the right choice:
Check qualifications beforehand. The IRS website offers a searchable database of credentialed tax preparers with specific qualifications.
Check disciplinary background beforehand. Even credentialed preparers can have a bad background. Check with third parties like the Better Business Bureau, and if the tax preparer has any licenses, such as a CPA or a J.D., check with their respective state boards for discipline history.
Check fee amount beforehand. Ask ahead of time what the preparer charges for his work. Do not provide any information regarding your taxes or possible return amount before the preparer states his fee. Do not use preparers who base their fees on a percentage of your potential refund, or advertise a “larger refund” than other preparers.
Check on ease of contact with preparer. Be sure to ask how to reach the preparer, and what hours he is available for contact. Does he have a physical location you can visit? The last thing you want is a preparer who vanishes or becomes impossible to reach after the return is filed.
Ensure the preparer requires copies of your records. A thorough tax preparer will require you to provide copies of all needed documents, such as records and receipts. This requirement will help protect your ministry and his business.
Ensure the preparer allows you to review the return before filing. Do not use a preparer who asks you to pre-sign a blank return. Ensure the preparer makes a practice of allowing you sufficient time to review the proposed final tax return and ask any questions you may have. Always ensure the bank information on the return matches your information, not the preparer’s. Contact our ministry if you have any questions.