Investing in People, Strengthening Communities

Tips on Choosing a Paid Tax Preparer

Our partner in the DC EITC Campaign, Community Tax Aid, Inc. ( provides the following recommendations on how to choose a paid tax preparer.

Tips on Choosing a Paid Tax Preparer

Our partner in the DC EITC Campaign, Community Tax Aid, Inc. ( provides the following recommendations on how to choose a paid tax preparer.

Qualifications to Prepare Tax Returns

In most states, the only requirement to become a paid 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. For more information see:
  • 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 Credit.

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 their name, address and Preparer Identification Number (PTIN). (If you go to a free VITA or AARP site, the site will “sign” the return by filling in the 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 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.

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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