Tax Preparation: Everything You Need to Know

Tax preparation is a complex process that requires knowledge of the tax code and the ability to accurately calculate and file taxes. Tax preparers are professionals who specialize in helping individuals and businesses with their tax obligations. They can provide a range of services, from basic filing to defending taxpayers before the IRS. Knowing the different types of tax preparers and credentials can help you get the best tax result.

Tax preparers can be accredited or unaccredited. Accredited tax preparers have credentials issued by third-party organizations, such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Enrolled Agents (EAs), and tax attorneys. These professionals have the right to represent taxpayers before the IRS in all tax matters. Unaccredited tax preparers are not certified, but they can still provide basic filing services.

Organizing your records ahead of time is essential for both DIY and paid tax preparation. This includes gathering receipts, forms, and other documents related to your income, expenses, and deductions. If you're using a paid preparer, this will save you time and money. Alternatively, if you're on a tight budget, a few well-chosen tax books may be enough to get you started.

The IRS website is a great resource for both new and experienced tax preparers. It contains publications and instructions that address changes in the tax code, as well as frequently asked questions and other helpful tips. Additionally, taxpayers have the option of preparing their own basic federal and state tax return for free using web-based tax preparation software with an IRS-certified volunteer who will guide them through the process. April 18 is the IRS filing deadline. If you need to file your taxes, consider preparing them with free tax software like UltraTax CS.

It provides access to federal, state and local tax programs, including individual, corporate, corporate, estate and trust tax returns, multi-state returns, and many others.