A tax agent is a professional who represents taxpayers in dealings with the tax authorities. Tax agents are usually accountants or lawyers, but anyone with expertise in tax matters can become a tax agent.
Tax agents can provide a range of services, including helping to prepare and lodge tax returns, advising on tax planning and assisting with audits and investigations.
While most people can deal directly with the tax office, some people may find it beneficial to use a tax agent. This is particularly the case for businesses and self-employed people, who may have complex affairs and need expert advice.
If you use a tax agent, you will need to give them your authority to act on your behalf. This authorisation can be done electronically through the ATO’s online services.
Most tax agents are honest and hardworking. However, there are a few bad apples out there who may try to take advantage of taxpayers.
Here are a few things to watch out for when dealing with a tax agent:
1. Upfront Fees
Some tax agents may charge an upfront fee for their services. This is generally not allowed by the ATO and should be a red flag that the agent is not reputable.
2. Promises Of Big Refunds
Be wary of any agent who assures you a large refund before even looking at your situation. This is likely a scam designed to get you to sign up for their services.
3. Pressure To Sign Up
A good tax agent will give you time to consider their offer and won’t pressure you into signing up for their services. You should never feel pressured into hiring a particular tax agent. If you do, walk away and find someone else.
4. Unfocused Or Evasive Answers
If an agent can’t give you a straight answer to your questions, or seems to be avoiding your questions, this is another red flag that they may not be reputable.
5. Lack Of Credentials
Make sure the tax agent you’re dealing with is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. You can check this by asking to see their registration number or searching for them on the TPB website.
6. Hidden Fees
Many tax agents will charge hidden fees for their services. Be sure to ask about any potential fees upfront so you can budget accordingly.
7. Lack Of Experience
Make sure your tax agent is experienced in handling the type of taxes you’re liable for. You don’t want to end up with someone who’s in over their head.
Some tax agents will promise results they can’t deliver simply to get your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or proof of past successes before hiring anyone.
Be wary of any promises made by the tax agent that seems too good to be true. For example, if they guarantee that you will get a refund no matter what, or that they can help you avoid paying taxes altogether. These are both red flags that should make you suspicious of the tax agent’s intentions.
9. Shady Tactics
Be wary of any tax agent who tries to push you into using questionable tactics to lower your taxes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
By keeping these things in mind, you can avoid potential problems down the road and find a tax agent that’s right for you.
Hiring a tax agent can provide peace of mind during tax season and beyond. With their help, you can be confident that your taxes are being handled expertly and in compliance with the latest laws.
You can find a tax agent either through referrals from friends or family or by searching online directories. Once you have found a few potential candidates, be sure to schedule an initial consultation to get a better sense of their qualifications and how they would be able to help you with your specific needs. During the consultation, be sure to ask about their experience, fees, and whether they have any specialties.
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