Pacific NW Tax

By AM Northwest Staff

When it comes to preparing your taxes, we all could use a little help! We got advice from April Gutierrez from Pacific NW Tax.

Got questions? Get answers!

Pacific NW Tax has three locations in the Portland/Beaverton area. For more information call (503) 646-5600 or visit the Pacific NW Tax Web site.

Here are some tips from Pacific NW Tax:

What should I expect to find in a good tax professional?

A good tax professional is highly skilled and is dedicated to delivering excellent service to every customer. Oregon law requires all paid tax professionals be licensed preparers, consultants or CPAs. But it takes more than a license to be a good preparer. In my 15 years plus as a tax service owner and manager, I’ve learned that good preparers are very hard to find.

A good tax preparer possesses intelligence, ethics, has received extensive training in tax law and works closely with other tax professionals to share knowledge and experience.

No matter how skilled a preparer is their work should always be reviewed. Oregon law requires all licensed preparers have their returns reviewed by more experienced personnel.

Make sure your tax return is reviewed for accuracy before it is filed with the IRS. For more information about finding a good tax professional, visit our website at www.pnwtax.com.

How can I save the most on my taxes?

FIRST, Work with a trained, licensed tax professional who conducts a thorough interview and asks LOTS of questions.

Come to your tax interview prepared. Pacific Northwest Tax Service has designed a detailed series of organizers to help you gather information and prepare for your tax interview. Go to our website at www.pnwtax.com and click on "Tax Organizers." We have tax organizers for individuals, small business, employee business expenses, LLC and partnerships and corporations.

Don’t assume your tax situation this year is the same as last year. Tax laws change every year. Marriage, children, buying a home, going to school, starting a business, retirement, change of job, home improvements, buying a hybrid car - even your health can all affect your tax situation.

Finally, don’t ask your friends or co workers for tax advice. Tax preparation is a complex profession. Save your tax questions for skilled tax professionals.

How much does using a tax service cost?

As silly as this may seem, some tax services will tell you it is not possible to give an estimate because every tax return is 'so different'. Yes, every tax return is different, but your preparer should still be able to give you a reasonable estimate of how much you should expect to pay for tax preparation services. You, in turn, need to be prepared to answer some questions. Most tax services charge based on form and line charges or by an hourly rate. No matter which method is used, it is only possible to give an accurate estimate when you have enough information.

Pacific Northwest Tax Service has designed a Price Estimate Worksheet which you can use to get an accurate price estimate.

The worksheet guides you through a series of questions to help determine which forms are needed prepare your tax return. Complete the worksheet and then call or drop by one of our offices. You can also use the worksheet to price-shop other tax services.

Oregon law requires tax preparers who offer discounts or coupons to post their price schedule. Ask to see your preparers price schedule to ensure you are being fairly charged.

Should I use computer software programs?

If you are one of the 40% of filers who prepares your own tax return, here are some important facts you should know: Computer programs like Turbo Tax and Tax Cut are designed to create a tax return by guiding a person with little tax knowledge through a series of interviews

Now, here is the problem. How do you know if the tax return your computer created is correct? Odds are you are hoping it’s correct, but you don’t really know.

Last year, thousands of Oregonians discovered their kicker refunds weren’t coming because the tax program they used donated their kicker to the school fund.

Your tax software may claim it guarantees to calculate correctly. But that’s like my calculator guaranteeing it can add 2+2. Your tax program can help you prepare your return, but it will not give you the right answer if you enter the wrong information.

So, if you are using a computer program to prepare your tax return make sure you carefully examine every line of the finished tax return it creates.

How will I know if my tax professional is competent?

In Oregon, all paid tax services must operate under the supervision of a CPA or a Licensed Tax Consultant. By law, all preparers must have their work reviewed by the LTC or another advanced licensee. Ask your preparer who the Resident Consultant is, and how long they have been operating a tax service.

Find out what education programs they are taking, and what their areas of expertise are.

Does your preparer rely on a computer program to do the thinking, or do they research complex issues and seek advice from their LTC?

Does the LTC review your preparer’s work as the law requires?

Pacific Northwest Tax Service operates a licensed tax school. As a result, our staff keep current on tax changes and participate in advanced tax education classes.

Our LTCs review all tax returns and give feedback to our preparers on errors found BEFORE tax returns are filed with the IRS. This ensures our customers receive the highest possible standards of service.

Who can I turn to if I have a problem with my tax preparer?

The tax preparation industry in Oregon is regulated by the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners. The Tax Board is responsible for ensuring only, CPAs, Licensed Tax Consultants and Licensed TAX Preparers working under the supervision of a Consultant, prepare tax returns for a fee. Under the law your preparer must:

  • Post their license,
  • Follow a professional code of conduct, and
  • Obtain continuing tax education every year.

Licensed preparers are apprentices who work under the supervision of tax consultants. All returns prepared by licensed preparers must be reviewed by the LTC or another licensee chosen based on experience and reviewing ability.

Check to see if you are working with an LTC or an LTP. If you are working with an LTP, ask to see if your return is being reviewed before it is filed.

If you believe your tax preparer is not following the law, file a written complaint with the Tax Board.

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