Investing in People, Strengthening Communities

Tips for Choosing a Paid Tax Preparer

In most states, including the District of Columbia, the only requirement to become a paid tax preparer is to register with the IRS and obtain a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number), but there is no test of tax return preparation knowledge to obtain a PTIN. We have created the attached informational flyer with tips for you to know what to look for when selecting a paid tax preparer.

Tips for Choosing a Paid Tax Preparer

If you select to have your taxes be filed by a paid tax preparer, please pay attention to the following tips provided by our partner in the DC EITC Campaign: Community Tax Aid

Qualifications to Prepare Tax Returns

In most states, the only requirement to become a paid tax preparer is to register with the IRS and obtain a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number), but there is no test of tax return preparation knowledge to obtain a PTIN.

Before Choosing a Preparer: Check their Credentials

  • Select a tax preparer that you can contact later in case the IRS has questions about your tax return.

  • Ask your friends, family and community members for recommendations. You can also research the tax preparer with your local Better Business Bureau ( to see if any complaints have been filed.

  • Ask about fees to have your taxes prepared before scheduling an appointment. Be sure to ask if there are any fees for additional schedules or forms, like the Schedule EIC, used to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

While at a Tax Preparer

  • Do not leave originals of documents with a tax preparer if he or she needs to work on your tax return when you are not present.

  • Avoid a tax preparer who suggests you lie or make up information. You will be held responsible for errors, not the preparer.

  • Do not sign a blank tax return or a return completed in pencil. Sign a tax return in pen, only after you’ve reviewed and understand it. Check names, addresses, Social Security numbers and wage information. Ask questions to understand the reason for any refund you get or taxes that you owe.

  • Check to make sure the tax preparer signs the return. The tax preparer must include his/her name, address and Preparer Identification Number (PTIN).

  • Request a copy of your completed tax return. Write down the preparer’s phone number to call if you have additional questions about your tax return later.

About the DC EITC Campaign 

The CAAB-managed DC EITC Campaign, is a citywide, cross-sector initiative that provides access to information on the EITC and connects Washingtonians with free tax preparation services throughout the District.

The DC EITC Campaign is made possible through the support from the Government of the District of Columbia, Citi Community Development and United Way of the National Capital Area.

About Capital Area Asset Builders

Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower low- and moderate-income residents of the Greater DC Area to take control of their finances, increase their savings, and build wealth for a better future.

Connect with CAAB via our social media platforms:


How to give

Now, more than ever, non-profits like Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB) need your help. Please support CAAB as we continue to help DC residents manage and/or improve their financial situation during these difficult times. If you can't afford to give a monetary gift, please visit our Amazon Wish List where you can choose from a variety of items that CAAB needs in order to better serve our community.

or send a check or money order to
Capital Area Asset Builders (CAAB)
c/o Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz, CEO & Executive Director
1100 15th St, NW, 4th Floor 
Washington, DC 20005