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Department of Taxation and Finance

Questions to ask your preparer

Four simple questions

If you do decide to hire a tax preparer, ask the four simple questions below to ensure the preparer you hire is, as most are, honest and in compliance with the tax law. Don’t fall prey to a tax preparer scam. (Printer-friendly checklist)

1. Are you registered with the IRS and New York State?

Tax preparers registered in New York State must meet continuing education requirements and minimum qualifications. Attorneys, certified public accountants, and IRS enrolled agents don’t need to register, but do have other professional requirements.

Helpful Tip: Ask to see the preparer’s registration certificate or proof that they aren’t required to register. You can also see Verify your tax preparer to search for your tax preparer in an online database of authorized preparers.

2. How much will your services cost?

Ask to see a list of fees. Fees should be directly related to the services provided—not the refund amount.

Find out if your preparer will handle any information requests or other notices, bills, or audits that could occur after your return is filed, or if this will cost extra.
Also, by law, preparers may not charge you extra for electronically filing your New York State return.

Helpful Tip: Ask for a written estimate that includes all of the items included within the price charged.

3. How will I receive my refund?

Your refund should never be deposited into your preparer's bank account. The fastest and safest way to receive your refund is to have it directly deposited into your bank account. However, the Tax Department can also mail you a refund check.

Helpful Tip: Be wary of refund anticipation loans. While these loans promise you money within days of filing your return, they also come with interest rates that can be higher than normal. If you use direct deposit, refunds can come much faster than they used to. Why pay interest when waiting only a few weeks will get you the entire amount?

4. Will you sign my return?

Both you and your tax preparer must sign your completed tax return. Never hire a preparer who:

  • won’t sign your return,
  • doesn’t include their federal preparer tax identification number (PTIN) or social security number on your return,
  • doesn’t include either their New York State registration number or exclusion code on your return, or
  • asks you to sign your return before it’s fully prepared.

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