Taxes are due in one month. The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona sent out a list of tips to help taxpayers avoid making mistakes when selecting tax preparation help to avoid costly mistakes on their returns.
I thought I'd pass them along to you. Here's what they had to say:
• 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 888-5353.