Tax season is here and Better Business Bureau
is warning consumers to file carefully after 63 consumers complained to the BBB about tax-related services in 2011.
Many complainants claim that after hiring someone to file their taxes, they were notified incorrect information was reported which resulted in fees and fines. In other cases, consumers complained of tax forms never being filed.
“This time of year can be a bank-breaking time,” said Gary Almond, president of BBB serving Northeast California. “It’s in a consumer’s best interest to be a responsible tax payer and research before they file.”
BBB offers the following tips to anyone seeking assistance with taxes:
It is recommended consumers seek a CTEC registered tax preparer
, certified public accountant, tax attorney or enrolled agent. Verify their status by contacting the regulating agency. Be sure to get the company’s contact information.
Search for the tax preparer at necal.bbb.org
and read through their complaint history. Search for the company or individual in a search engine and review the results.
Get an estimate. Before you allow any work done on your behalf, present all that you need done for your tax return to your tax preparer and request a written estimate.
Watch out for big refunds. Be wary of preparers who promise to beat competitor’s refunds or base their fee on a percentage of your refund. Focus, instead, on reporting your information accurately.
Beware of refund anticipation loans. These are not actual refunds from the IRS and in some cases, are treated as loans that carry high interest rates.
Keep all documents. Retain any receipts or documents used to prepare the tax return. The burden of proof falls on the consumer when an audit occurs. Get copies of any signed documents.
And remember, read what you sign. Inaccurate information reported on your documents, whether you or someone else enters it, is your responsibility.