During tax season Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona advises taxpayers to take the proper steps to avoid making mistakes when selecting tax preparation help to avoid costly mistakes on their returns.
Since the beginning of January, BBB has received over 500 inquiries from consumers into Southern Arizona tax preparation services- a 95 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.
“The increase in our inquiries about tax preparation shows that people are being more cautious about who they choose for assistance in their taxes,” said Kim States, BBB president. “Your BBB advises taking the time to be thorough the first time around to avoid a headache in the future.”
Denisse DiPierto, owner of Ms. Tax- a Tucson accountancy- told BBB that consumers should take a long look at a tax preparer’s track record before bringing their business to them.
“Consumers should go to an experienced and ethical professional who knows the tax law,” DiPierto said. “The cheapest isn’t always the best- you want someone who really knows the tax laws, and will take every allowable deduction on your behalf.”
DiPierto stressed that since taxes and financial matters have so many legal ramifications it’s extremely important that consumers do their homework before hiring anyone. BBB reminds consumers that if a mistake is made on their tax return the IRS will hold them solely responsible for it, not their tax preparer.
Ask around. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use, and check the BBB Reliability Report on tax preparation services free-of-charge at www.tucson.bbb.org.
Look for credentials. Ideally, tax preparers should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney, or an enrolled agent. All three can represent taxpayers 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.
Don’t fall for the promise of a big refund. Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and avoid any tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
Think about accessibility. Many tax preparation services only set up shop for the months leading up to April 15. In case the IRS finds errors, or in case of an audit, consumers need to be able to contact their tax preparer throughout the year.
Read the contract and know what you’re paying for. Consumers must read tax preparation service contracts closely to ensure they understand issues such as, 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 the consumer in case of an audit.
For more trustworthy advice from BBB on tax preparation visit www.tucson.bbb.org or call (520)888-5353.