BBB Offers Tax Advice

March 14, 2017

With more than 153 million individual tax returns expected to be filed with the IRS in 2017, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern NC (BBB) offers tips for the public as tax season looms into view.

“Whether consumers are going to use a CPA, tax preparation company or do it online yourself,  they have make sure they are doing the appropriate amount of research before filing their taxes,” said Alyssa Gutierrez, Director of Communications of BBB serving Eastern NC. “There is nothing worse than having personal information fall into the wrong hands especially during tax season.”

This year, a new law required the IRS to hold refunds for returns that contain an Earned Income Tax Credit or an Additional Child Tax Credit until Feb. 15, to ensure the claims are accurate. Taxpayers who are changing tax software products this filing season will need their adjusted gross income from their 2015 tax return in order to file electronically.

BBB offers the following tips on finding a trustworthy tax preparer:

Ask around. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use and research free BBB Business Profiles on tax preparers and tax preparation services at

Consider accessibility. Some tax preparation services wind down their operations shortly after the April 18 tax deadline. In case the IRS finds errors or in case of an audit, you need to be sure you know how to contact your tax preparer throughout the year.

Bigger isn’t always better. Be wary of tax preparation services that promise larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.

Make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. A valid 2017 PTIN must be obtained by all tax return preparers who are compensated for preparing or assisting in the preparation of, all or substantially all of any U.S. federal tax return, claim for refund, or other tax form submitted to the IRS.

Read the contract carefully. Read contracts closely to ensure you understand issues, such as how much it will cost for the service, how that cost will be affected if your tax preparation is more complicated and time consuming than expected, and whether the tax preparer will represent you in case of an audit.

Don’t forget about Free File. If your adjusted gross income is $64,000 or less, Free File offers free Federal tax preparation and e-filing. Visit to learn more.

BBB also warns people about tax refund fraud, a form of identity theft where someone else fraudulently files a tax return in your name. This is a serious issue; one that is difficult to detect and can delay the tax refund you’re due. One of the best ways to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud is to file your tax return as soon as possible.