Ranking Filers

Its tax time again--here's what you can expect from a paid preparer

anything a CPA can do that we can’t do,” says McDougall, noting that H&R Block’s tax prepares receive 60 hours of basic training and have an average of 10 years’ experience in tax preparation.

Finally, in addition to thinking about costs and services, don’t forget about the human element. Robert McIntyre, director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in Washington, D.C., stresses that if you’re going to pay a tax specialist, make sure you get the maximum benefit out of it, including advice on things you can do to lower taxes for your 1998 return.

Lend a helping hand.
Tax consultants say there are several things that consumers can do to make the process smoother. First of all, keep adequate documentation. There’s nothing worse, tax experts say, than a client who wants every deduction in the book but can’t support any of his or her claims. In addition to keeping good records, be prepared. Bring all your paperwork to your tax specialist up front–rather than sending in documentation piecemeal. Finally, don’t wait until the night before the filing deadline–or worse yet, April 15–to get your tax work prepared.

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