Finding the Right Tax Service

  
     
Now that everyone has received their W-2s and 1099s, it’s time to find the tax preparation service that best fits your needs.
February 16, 2017

Media contact: Tom Bartholomy, tbartholomy@charlotte.bbb.org

With another tax season underway, Better Business Bureau is encouraging taxpayers to take their time finding and selecting a tax preparer they can trust to avoid mistakes that could result in additional fees or even tax identity theft.

According to BBB Scam Tracker, BBB received more than 7,880 complaints against tax return preparation businesses in 2016. Common complaints state that the tax preparer made errors in their return which resulted in fines and fees. Other complaints allege customer service, billing and contract issues.

“Filing taxes is a major financial transaction for not only consumers, but businesses as well,” said Tom Bartholomy, President/CEO for the local BBB. “With the tax season underway, the findings in our investigation are beneficial for the community. Taxpayers should be aware of the best practices they can take to make the process as stress-free as possible.”

The following tips will help consumers search for reliable tax preparers and avoid certain issues that can arise from choosing an unreliable tax preparer.

Use Your Resources

  • Resources available to locate credentialed preparers are the IRS, NATP, and NAEA websites.
  • Look out for pop-up businesses that open in January and are gone in April. They probably will not be available to help you if the need arises.

Check Registry & Licenses

  • Be sure the tax preparer is registered with the IRS and can represent clients whose returns they have prepared and signed.
  • First and foremost, make sure the person preparing the returns (not just the principal owners) have a valid license as an Enrolled Agent or CPA. If a preparer does not have one of these licenses, the preparer will not be responsible for preparation errors to their respective policing agencies (Department of Treasury, State Accounting Boards, etc.) nor will they have proper Errors and Omissions insurance.

Understand The Refunds

  • Be wary if they promise you a bigger refund, before even looking at your tax records. Be wary if they want you to sign a blank or unfinished return, or offer to you to deposit your refund into their personal bank account.
  • You should never hire someone who charges percentages of your refund for their fees. Fees should never be based on what is rightfully yours for refund, it should be based on the amount of work and professionalism included in that work provided.