Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona warns taxpayers that they are not exempt if their tax returns are prepared improperly by third-party professionals. BBB advises consumers to evade unqualified tax preparers:
Designations: All tax professionals should be able to provide proof of credentials. Turn to the Internal Revenue Service for insight on Enrolled Agents or EAs.
Standings: Check for registration status and disciplinary actions through state and federal agencies. Beware of unanswered or unresolved complaints on bbb.org.
Advertisement Claims: Watch out for those who assert that they can secure higher refunds or deliver faster than other professional preparers.
PTINs: Ask preparers to disclose Preparer Tax Identification Numbers or PTINs before providing services. PTINs should also be enclosed on completed tax returns.
Service Fees: Get costs upfront and in writing. Look for flat fees; avoid rates that fluctuate based on refund percentages.
Electronic Filing: Paid preparers should be able to process returns electronically through IRS e-file, unless clients opt to file paper returns instead. The IRS lists authorized e-file providers.
Documentation: Be wary of those who offer to file without W-2s, records or receipts. Review returns and other tax forms carefully; be skeptical of preparers who try to rush the process, don’t answer questions and encourage clients to sign blank documents. After filing, retain original W-2s and copies of completed tax returns with preparer signatures and PTINs.
Contacts: Ensure preparers will be accessible in case questions or issues arise, even after April. Collect full contact information.