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Paid Return Preparer

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Station Overview

A paid tax return preparer is an individual hired by a taxpayer to prepare the taxpayer’s federal tax return or claim for refund.

Every year, tens of millions of taxpayers pay someone to prepare their federal tax return.

Different types of preparers have differing skills, education and expertise. Another important difference is a preparer’s ability to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Only certain types of preparers (for example, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, or attorneys) have unlimited representation rights before the IRS. Participants in the IRS’s Annual Filing Season Program will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent taxpayers whose returns they prepared and signed, but only involving audits, customer service matters, and before the Taxpayer Advocate Service. All paid preparers, regardless of their credentials, need to have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN).

What are my next steps?

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Selecting a Tax Return Preparer

The IRS has a searchable, sortable Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications on IRS.gov that taxpayers can use to research tax return preparers by last name, ZIP code, or credential. This public directory includes PTIN holders who are:

  • Credentialed preparers (meaning certified public accountants, enrolled agents, or attorneys);
  • Annual Filing Season Program participants;
  • Enrolled actuaries; and
  • Enrolled retirement plan agents.

Taxpayers can research a specific tax professional’s credentials or qualifications. The listings are not an endorsement from the IRS.

Where can I get additional help?

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Additional Information

For additional information about your rights, you can review Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, or review Taxpayer Bill of Rights information online and watch the video “An Overview of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights” located on the TAS website.

If you still need help

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.