Vancouver, BC – The last day to file your taxes isn’t until April 30, but many people are thinking about hiring a tax professional now. However, Better Business Bureau warns that consumers can run into serious problems if they don’t do their research to find a reputable tax preparer.
“Most tax professionals are qualified, reliable and honest,” says BBB President and CEO Danielle Primrose, “But it is well worth the time to look for a qualified, dependable and trustworthy service to avoid problems during and after consumers hand over their documents.”
Your BBB has some tips for selecting a reputable tax preparer and avoiding those who may be problematic:
Check on qualifications. Ask about their training, experience and knowledge of current tax law, and whether they are members of a professional organization with continuing education requirements and a code of ethics.
Learn about their service terms in advance. Find out whether they guarantee the accuracy of their work and amend the return if there’s a mistake. And find out if they can be reached year round―if there is a mistake or are required to undergo an audit, you want to make sure you can reach them after the tax season is complete.
Ask for references. Get referrals from satisfied clients.
Check with BBB. Visit www.bbb.org/mbc/ to determine if the tax preparer has a reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.
Request a quote. Ask for an estimate of the preparation fee before authorizing the work.
BBB advises consumers to steer clear of tax preparers who sound too good to be true. Beware if they:
Once your income tax return is prepared, make certain the preparer has signed it and get a copy and payment receipt for your records. Also review the return before signing it and ask for clarification of any entry you don’t understand.
Be on the watch for tax-related scams
Each year new scams surface online, promising tax refunds and other incentives to get you to part with your personal information. Be on the watch for the following scams:
Phishing Scams. Never open or download attachments included with messages claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Typically, these messages advise the recipient that they have qualified for a tax refund and need to click on a link to enter their information. The link takes the person to a bogus website and requires the visitor to enter personal identification. CRA will not contact you via email.
Identity Theft. If you’re doing your taxes on your own online, don’t use a public wireless connection. Even using the latest wireless security encryption standards such as WPA2 can be risky, so use a wired connection when dealing with sensitive financial and personal information.
Malware. Refrain from opening any unsolicited tax-related email message, as some messages can exploit weaknesses in your browser and initiate a drive-by download of spyware or malware without your knowledge.
For media inquiries, contact:
Simone Lis, Vice President
Better Business Bureau