Tips for picking a good tax preparer

Tax season has started and you need someone to do your return. Take the time to make the right choice. You want to make sure that company or individual is qualified to do your taxes.

How do you do that?

"Do your homework and make sure that you ask the right questions," advised Cindy Hockenberry with the National Association of Tax Professionals. "And I think the first one out of my mouth would be how long have you been doing this and what is your background?"

Hockenberry says you really need to interview that person.

"Ask them what types of returns they've prepared. Ask them if they're going to be around after April 15th?" she said.

And check to make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The IRS requires anyone who charges money to prepare a tax return to have a PTIN. If they don't' have one - walk out!

You might also want to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the company.

You need to do all this because Washington does not specifically regulate tax preparers.

Remember, even if someone else prepares your return, you sign it and you are legally responsible for what's on it.

More Info: Many tax preparers 'incompetent,' consumer group warns