Tax Help You Can Trust

Kimberly Lankford helps you find a qualified tax preparer and answers your questions on Roth IRAs, 401(k) rollovers and more.

After years of reading financial magazines, I still regularly see the disclaimer “Consult your tax adviser.” So how do I go about finding one? And how do they get paid? -- Harlan Sam, Fort Collins, Colo.

This time of year, many unlicensed tax preparers with questionable credentials set up shop. Some disappear after tax season, leaving you to deal with the IRS if there’s a problem with your return later. The IRS recently cracked down on rogue tax preparers by, among other things, contacting preparers who have frequent errors. It’s also instituting stricter rules for anyone who charges a fee to prepare tax returns, but most of those rules don’t take effect until the 2011 tax season. Until then, taxpayers need to be especially vigilant when hiring a tax preparer or adviser.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.