Jackson Hewitt(R) Offers Tips on Choosing a Tax Preparer

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Feb. 7, 2011 // PRNewswire // -- The IRS estimates that taxpayers spent an average of more than 21 hours preparing their 2009 tax return.* Given all the recent changes to the tax code, that number could increase for this tax season.

This is just one reason why millions of consumers will again turn to tax preparers for help in preparing their returns. But before trusting someone with this vital task, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® offers consumers simple tips to ensure that a preparer is a good fit for their needs and has the right skill set and training.

"With the number of significant tax law changes made late in 2010, there is sure to be even greater confusion relative to filing this year," said Mark Steber, chief tax officer, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. "That's why sitting down with a qualified tax preparer to discuss changes in your life and in the tax law can be beneficial. But not all tax preparers are the same. By keeping a few simple points in mind, consumers can find a qualified, experienced preparer who is up-to-date on all of the deductions and credits to which they may be entitled."

Steber highlights key questions to ask when looking for a tax preparer:

  • What experience does the preparer have? Based on your unique needs, you'll want to ensure that your tax preparer can handle your return – whether straightforward or more complicated. Select a tax preparation company/tax preparer who has been in business for many years and has proven experience preparing many different types of individual income tax returns. Also be sure that the tax preparation service you choose provides year-round access should tax-related questions or concerns arise after a return has been filed.
  • What is his or her tax knowledge? As tax laws change, preparers need to be in the know. Make sure that your tax preparer is up-to-date on all new and changed tax laws, particularly those that took place late in 2010. He or she should also be working with state-of-the-art tax preparation software and should have quality, up-to-date training on the current tax laws.
  • What technology is available? Verify that your tax preparer has up-to-date software with built-in error checks. Ask if your preparer files tax returns electronically via IRS e-file, which is faster and provides greater accuracy and a confirmation that a 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.
  • Is there a guarantee? A legitimate tax preparer will stand behind the work he or she does for you. If an error is made, you'll want to ensure that you will be reimbursed all penalties and interest charged by a taxing authority. At Jackson Hewitt, every paid tax return comes with an Accuracy Guarantee.
  • Does the preparer have a Preparer Tax Identification Number? As of January 1, 2011, the IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Make sure the person you choose is compliant with this new but important requirement.
  • Does the tax preparer participate in IRS e-file? The IRS requires all paid preparers who file 100 or more tax returns to participate in IRS e-file beginning January 1, 2011. Jackson Hewitt provides free e-file with paid tax preparation.

"Remember, you are legally responsible for what's on your tax return even if it was prepared by another individual or firm," cautioned Steber. "Knowing what to ask and look for when choosing a preparer is extremely important. Although not everyone will require assistance, if you're unsure of how to file or what to claim, working with a knowledgeable tax preparer can help you get every dollar you deserve."

* http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i1040a/ar03.html

About Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.

Based in Parsippany, N.J., Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. (NYSE: JTX) is an industry leading provider of full service individual federal and state income tax preparation, with franchised and company-owned office locations throughout the United States. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service® also offers an online tax preparation product at www.jacksonhewittonline.com. For more information, or to locate the Jackson Hewitt® office nearest to you, visit www.jacksonhewitt.com or call 1-800-234-1040. Jackson Hewitt can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Jackson Hewitt Tax Service

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