What kind of tax preparer do I need for my returns?

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Q. How can I tell what kind of professional I should hire to do my taxes?
— Taxpayer

A. You’re cutting it pretty close.

You may find that many tax professionals are pretty swamped at this late date, so don’t be surprised to find they want to file an extension on your behalf to buy time.

And that’s fine — just know that if you owe taxes, an extension is only an extension to file, not an extension to pay. Depending on your situation, you may need to send in a payment to make sure you’re not underpaying by the deadline.

Now, your options.

A CPA is a certified public accountant. This kind of professional must have the required education of 150 hours and pass a four-part examination. Typically, they work with individuals and businesses to prepare tax returns, financial statements and conduct audits.

Then there’s an enrolled agent. These must pass IRS examination to establish a minimum level of proficiency in tax. Among their duties are to represent clients in audits with the IRS.

You could also consider a tax attorney, but most taxpayers don’t need someone at this level. They would have had to pass the bar examination, and they typically are involved with more complex tax planning, such as business reorganizations, wills and trusts.

This is who would need if you go to court over your taxes.

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This story was originally published April 11, 2023.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.