Tax preparers are a dime a dozen but competent professionals are gems. The complex world of account and finance requires thorough knowledge of the working mechanisms as well as professional experience in a certain field.
Start the search by looking for tax preparers with a professional license and, preferably, a designation like a certified public accountant (CPA). No designation doesn’t necessarily mean incompetency but make sure of the same by confirming that he or she is a member of a national tax professional organization.
Your state licensing agency is the next stop where you confirm certification, competency, whether complaints have been made etc. Good tax preparers have no black marks and though they charge a higher fee for services, they guarantee a job well done.
Tax preparers specialize in certain types of tax returns. For example, one who prepares a return for companies may not be competent to do the same when filing a return on a rental property and vice versa. So filter the choice further by seeking out preparers who specialize in your area of need.
Charges should be on an hourly basis because IRS law prohibits preparers from charging fees based on tax refunds of clients. Tax returns that are complicated require preparers with more expertise who will, naturally, charge more.