There were 2,068 complaints nationwide against tax preparers in 2010, and 8,434 over the past three years, the standard BBB reporting period. CT BBB urges consumers to use caution when selecting tax preparation help.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT
Avoid Excessive Fees, Costly Mistakes and Penalties
Connecticut Better Business Bureau urges consumers who hire someone to prepare their tax returns to use caution when selecting tax preparation help. While most tax preparers are honest and professional, every year BBB receives thousands of consumer complaints against tax preparers, which typically state the tax preparer made errors in their return, resulting in fines and excessive fees.
There were 2,068 complaints nationwide against tax preparers in 2010, and 8,434 over the past three years, the standard BBB reporting period.
Taxpayers are legally responsible for what is on their tax return, even if it is prepared by someone else. BBB offers these tips on choosing a trustworthy tax preparer:
•Check credentials - Ideally, your tax preparer should be either a certified public accountant, tax attorney, or enrolled agent. Any of the three may represent you before the IRS in all matters, including an audit. Also, find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that holds its members to a code of ethics.
•Service fees - Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.
•A “larger refund?” - Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition.
•Never sign a blank return – Steer clear of preparers that ask you to sign a blank return “for convenience.”
•Ensure accessibility - Many tax preparation services only set up shop for the months leading up to April 15. In case the IRS finds errors or an audit, you might need to be able to contact your tax preparer throughout the year.
•Read the contract carefully - Ensure you understand how much it is going to cost for the service, how the cost will be affected if preparation is more complicated and time-consuming than expected, and whether the tax preparer will represent you in case of an audit.
•Provide all records and receipts needed to prepare your return - Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts and ask multiple questions to determine your total income and qualifications for expenses, deductions and other items.
•Ask around - Get referrals from friends and family, and check the BBB Business Reviews of prospective tax preparation services at http://www.ct.bbb.org/.