Tips for Tax Procrastinators: Ask a friend for help

If you have trouble sorting through all your tax documents and getting them ready for a tax preparer, maybe you just need help from a friend. Find someone you trust, someone who is good at organization and is a little familiar with taxes, and ask her or him to help you sort out all your documents.

Maybe your friend can even help you prepare your taxes if you've got a basic tax return. You do have to be careful though, because I can't tell you how many times I've heard "my friend said..." and the "tax advice" turned out to be wrong. If you have any doubt about your friend's tax knowledge, don't have them help you prepare the tax return. Go to a professional.

Which leads us to another area in which friends can help... finding a qualified tax preparer. It's never a good idea to just pick a tax preparer out of the phone book. It's an even worse idea to use one of the large tax preparation chains (H&R Block, Liberty Tax, Jackson Hewitt, etc.). The best way to find a good tax preparer is by seeking referrals from friends and family. Who do they use? Are their prices reasonable? Have they done a good job? Do they seem very knowledgeable?

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Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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