PARSIPPANY, N.J., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Millions of consumers turn to tax professionals each year to have their tax returns prepared and filed. But the question is, do they know what exactly to look for when choosing a preparer? Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® covers this issue as the first tip in its "Tax Time Tips" series, a weekly installment of critical consumer tax considerations – all aimed at helping those filing a 2009 tax return.
This Week's Tip: According to the IRS, over 60% of taxpayers worked with a tax professional last year to have a tax return prepared and filed.* And with an array of important new tax changes enacted in 2009, many more may seek the help of a preparer this season. Yet before meeting with someone to start on this vital task, consumers should take the time to ensure that resource has the right skill set and training.
"Each year brings new tax rules, so sitting down with a preparer to discuss both big picture changes and your individual tax situation can definitely be beneficial – as long as you select the right resource," said Mark Steber, chief tax officer, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. "Not all tax preparers are the same. Keeping a few key tips in mind when selecting a tax resource can help filers ensure that the most important areas are covered."
Steber highlights five areas to consider when choosing the right tax preparer for an individual's needs:
- Experience: Select a tax preparation company and/or tax preparer who is well-established. In other words, look for someone who has been in business for many years and has proven experience preparing many different types of individual income tax returns. You want to ensure that your tax preparer can handle your unique needs, whether you have an easy return with one W-2 or have a more complicated return – for example, because you are self-employed.
- Knowledge: You want to ensure that your tax preparer is up-to-date on the new and changed tax laws, has state-of-the-art tax preparation software and has quality training on the current tax laws. Jackson Hewitt offers a comprehensive tax preparer training curriculum, including basic, intermediate and advanced courses, as well as ethics and ongoing update training.
- Accuracy: Verify that your tax preparer has quality, up-to-date software with built-in error checks. For an additional accuracy check, filing a tax return electronically via IRS e-file provides checks on common errors, such as mathematical ones. Other additional benefits of e-filing a return versus mailing a return include: faster receipt of an expected refund and confirmation within 48 hours that your tax return has been received by the IRS. At Jackson Hewitt, IRS e-file is known as "IRS Direct" and is provided free with paid tax preparation.
- Guarantee: Make sure your tax preparer will stand behind the work he or she does for you. You want to ensure that you will be reimbursed all penalties and interest charged by a taxing authority for any tax preparer error. "At Jackson Hewitt, every paid tax return comes with a Free Accuracy Guarantee - our Basic Guarantee - that provides the client with reimbursement of penalties and interest charged by a taxing authority if a Jackson Hewitt tax preparer makes an error preparing a return. A benefit like this provides another level of quality and instills confidence in every return prepared," explains Steber. The Company also provides, for a fee, a Gold Guarantee®. The Gold Guarantee** is in addition to the free Basic Guarantee and can provide reimbursement for any additional tax liability or reduction in a refund amount up to $5,000.
- Year-Round Support: Finally, be sure that the tax preparation service provides year-round access should tax-related questions or concerns arise.
Jackson Hewitt has several resources available for consumers at www.jacksonhewitt.com. In addition to information on the new tax laws and changes, taxpayers will find a list of What to Bring to a tax preparation session, Tax Filing FAQ's and other helpful information.
**The Gold Guarantee is in addition to a customer's coverage under the Basic Guarantee which is included with paid tax preparation whether or not you choose to purchase the Gold Guarantee.
About Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. (NYSE: JTX), with more than 6,000 franchised and company-owned offices throughout the United States, is an industry leader providing full service individual federal and state income tax return preparation. Most offices are independently owned and operated. Jackson Hewitt is based in Parsippany, New Jersey. More information may be obtained at www.jacksonhewitt.com. To locate the Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® office nearest to you, call 1-800-234-1040.
SOURCE Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.