FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions we receive for tax preparation, planning and tax implications on investments and 401(k)/IRA withdrawals and activity.
What's the difference between an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) and a CPA?
An enrolled agent is a federally licensed tax practitioner who has unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Enrolled agents are licensed by the IRS. To become an EA, you have to pass a three-part comprehensive examination (Individuals, Businesses and Representation, Practice, and Procedure) which covers all aspects of the tax code or have worked at the IRS for five years in a position where you were required to interpret and apply the tax code on an ongoing basis as part of your job. EA's also must pass a background check conducted by the IRS which includes looking into your personal tax history. CPAs by definition, are accountants and tax is law, not accounting. While many CPAs have also become qualified as tax preparers, many have NOT.
I received a letter from the IRS saying I owed money, should I just pay it?
When you receive a bill from the IRS or any taxing authority, you shouldn't panic. Please contact us as soon as possible so we can help plan a strategy for responding.
I have an income-based student loan repayment plan and need help determining the most advantageous way to file. Can you help with this?
Yes, we will determine the most advantageous way for you to file your year end returns (Federal & State) with the primary focus on reducing your overall tax and student loan liabilities.
I have some changes to my tax situation this year that need expert advice, how do I know that I’m hiring a qualified tax professional?
Many people hire a professional when it’s time to file their tax return. If you pay someone to prepare your federal income tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that person wisely. Even if you don’t prepare your own return, you’re still legally responsible for what is on it.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax preparer*:
Check to be sure the preparer has a PTIN. All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask the preparer if they belong to a professional organization and attend continuing education classes.
Check the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Check for disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment. (Enrolled agents are licensed by the IRS and are specifically trained in federal tax planning, preparation, and representation.) For certified public accountants, check with the state board of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar association. Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others can. Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into your bank account. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.
Ask to e-file your return. Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file the returns electronically. IRS has safely processed more than 1.2 billion e-filed tax returns.
Make sure the preparer is available. Make sure you’ll be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return - even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions come up about your tax return.
Provide records and receipts. Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to determine your total income, deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
Never sign a blank return.
Review your return before signing. Before you sign your tax return, review it, and ask questions if something is not clear. Make sure you’re comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. Paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.
* Guidelines provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Additional information is available here.
What items should I bring to my tax appointment?
All the items required for your first tax appointment are listed under the Resources tab – “What to bring to your appointment.”
Do I need to schedule an appointment to have my taxes prepared?
Although an appointment is highly recommended and preferred so that clients do not have wait times, walk-ins are accepted.
Do you prepare non-current year returns, delinquent years?
Yes. We prepare both non-current years and delinquent years tax returns.
Do you prepare state returns for other than NY?
Yes, we prepare income tax returns for all states that require the preparation of a state income tax return.
Are you open year-round?
Yes. During tax season a tax professional is available seven days a week and off-season Tuesdays and Thursdays or by appointment only.
I live out of state do you have a way for me to submit paperwork to Michael A. Gaspary, EA securely?
Yes, you will have access to our Client Portal. Here you will be able to view returns, invoices, and other documentation in addition to the ability to upload data and documents. It is a secure two way means of communication. If you don't have an account, please use the request account icon under Resources tab.