* Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund.Of course, they remind taxpayers that they are ultimately responsible for what's on the tax return and then have snippets of various taxpayers and tax preparers that have been sent to jail (the IRS, never known for it's tact).
*Use a reputable tax professional who signs your tax return and provides you with a copy for your records.
*Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of your tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed
Then Roth, CPA (one of my favorite tax sites) follows with it's own helpful hints for finding a tax preparer.
* Avoid preparers who base their fee on the unused amount of your credit card borrowing limit.Ha! Seriously, though, if you are hiring a paid preparer make sure the person is a CPA. While not all CPAs are quality, it will show that at the very least they have to do enough to maintain credentials. Asking for references are also key. If they start to promise you that you'll pay no taxes because they're illegal or some such run as fast as you can and then refer to the IRS page with the penalties for fraud.
* Use a reputable tax professional who doesn't sign his returns as "Brett Favre."
* If your your tax professional prepares returns out of his car, the presence of cases of pseudoephedrine in the back seat is a classic warning sign.
* Don't use a tax preparer whose web site is hosted here.
* Don't hire this guy to prepare your return. Or this guy. Not this guy, either.