Before you hire a tax preparer, do your homework.
Here are resources for finding a licensed and registered tax return preparer.
California Board of Accountancy: dca.ca.gov/cba
California Society of Certified Public Accountants:
State Bar of California: calbar.ca.gov
California Society of Enrolled Agents: csea.org
California Tax Education Council: ctec.org
Plenty of free tax return assistance is available, including at the Santa Clara University Low-Income Tax Clinic, which is open Wednesday evenings at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, at 1030 The Alameda, San Jose. Call 408-288-7030.
The IRS-funded Volunteer Income Tax Assistance clinics offer free tax preparation across the Bay Area. Find a site at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/
Sources: National Taxpayer Advocate Service, IRS, California Franchise Tax Board, California Tax Education Council and the SCU Low-Income Tax Clinic
Contact Heather Somerville at 925-977-8418. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.