Tax man is here, and this is what you need to know

Better Call Harry talked to professionals who offer solid advice this tax season
But how much training do employees at these businesses have? Does the IRS approve them? What are their qualifications?
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 2:20 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 14, 2023 at 11:37 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - By now, you should have received your W-2s. The form contains your most valuable information, including your address, place of employment, income, and social security number.

This is information you should give to someone you trust and someone who is appropriately trained and qualified to prepare your tax return.

Over the next two and half months, wavy banners and spinning signs will lure you into your nearest strip mall with the promise of a quick refund, a large refund, or both. But how much training do employees at these businesses have? Does the IRS approve them? What are their qualifications?

A Google search found two dozen H&R Block franchises in metro Atlanta. According to its website, H&R Block tax preparers must complete 60 hours of training and do not require a high school diploma.

If you have a simple return, that amount of training may be what you need. What you don’t need, according to Simone Williams with Metro Atlanta’s Better Business Bureau, are popup locations offering big promises but where staff members have little training.

“If your tax preparer is promising these large refunds, better than what you’re seeing from another tax preparer, that could be a red flag,” Williams said.

She warns against any tax preparer willing to offer advance based on what your tax refund may be.

The IRS and the state of Georgia do not require training to prepare tax returns. A preparer tax identification number (PTIN) is the only requirement, so should ask any preparer about their training.

What you do want is one of the following:

  • An “enrolled agent,” a tax preparer licensed by the IRS and who must complete a special exam.
  • A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA.
  • A tax attorney

Beware of any online preparers who will not provide credentials and do not have a physical address. Otherwise, you could be handing over your identity to a scammer.

If your tax preparer refuses to sign your return, which is what the IRS calls a “ghost preparer,” don’t walk away. Run.

If there’s something you would like Atlanta News First′s Consumer Investigator Better Call Harry to look into, fill out this submission form.