Tips and Resources for a Stress Free Tax Season

  
     
The IRS accepts federal tax returns electronically from January 19, 2016 until April 18, 2016. If you’re not comfortable preparing your own taxes, be sure to find a qualified professional to assist you.
January 28, 2016

Better Business Bureau serving West Florida (BBB) offers a directory of qualified tax preparers and accountants, important IRS resources, and tips on how to avoid tax scams for the 2016 tax season.

Tax Advice

The IRS accepts federal tax returns electronically from January 19, 2016 until April 18, 2016.  If you’re not comfortable preparing your own taxes, be sure to find a qualified professional to assist you.


Take time to choose a tax return preparer that you trust as this is someone that will have all of your personal information.” Said Karen Nalven, President of Better Business Bureau serving West Florida.  “Most tax professionals provide great service, but with so many scams going on, consumers need to be diligent with whom they are dealing.”


BBB tips on how to find a trustworthy tax return preparer:

  • 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.
  • Look for credentials. Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney, an enrolled agent or a certified E-file provider.  Also ask if they belong to any professional organizations or attend continuing education classes.

  • 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.
  • Make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A 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.
  • Remember that a paid preparer is required by law to sign your return and fill in the preparer areas of the form. They should also include their appropriate identifying number on the return. In addition, the preparer must give you a copy of your tax return and deposit your refund in your account.

  • Consider accessibility. Some tax preparation services wind down their operations shortly after the April 18 tax deadline – which falls three days later than usual this year. 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.
  • Don’t forget about Free File. If your adjusted gross income is $62,000 or less, Free File offers free Federal tax preparation and e-filing. Visit irs.gov/freefile to learn more.

The IRS says taxpayers will receive their tax refunds quicker by using e-file or Free File, with the direct deposit option. They are also urging all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing, including Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and Form 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.

Because Florida was one of the top areas for tax return fraud the IRS is offering the Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) to all taxpayers who filed their federal tax returns last year as residents of Florida.  You do not need to be an identity theft victim to participate. The IP PIN is a 6-digit number they use to confirm your identity when they receive a return with your name and Social Security number on it. This helps prevent identity thieves from obtaining a fraudulent refund using your SSN and avoid delays issuing any refund you may be due.

Florida residents that choose to Get An IP PIN can visit: https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-An-Identity-Protection-PIN

After you get an IP PIN:

  • You must use it on all future federal income tax forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1040 PR/SS
  • The IRS will mail you a new IP PIN each year in late December or early January.

 

For qualified tax preparers and accountants who would like to seek BBB Accreditation please visit: http://www.bbb.org/west-florida/accreditation-application/

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BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles and BBB Wise Giving Reports®, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is a difference in viewpoints. For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org.   Better Business Bureau Serving West Florida is one of many local, independent BBBs across North America that provide business reviews on companies within its 11 county service area.  These counties include: Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee & Collier. 

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