BBB Offers Tips For 2017 Tax Season

By PAULA FLEMING

With another tax season underway, Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI, & VT (BBB) 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 across the United States and Canada 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 Paula Fleming, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer 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.”

BBB recently ran an industry investigation on tax preparers, asking BBB Accredited tax service businesses what advice they have for taxpayers. 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.” – Thomas P. Levins, Jr., Owner of Thomas P. Levins Jr. Tax & Business Services.

“Receiving referrals from friends, family or professional advisers you trust can be very helpful when choosing a new tax preparer.” – Megan Smith, Director of Marketing of Costantino Richards Rizzo, LLP.

“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.” – Jeffrey E. Simpson, Owner of America’s Hometown Tax Service, LLC.

Check Registry & Licenses:

“Be sure the tax preparer is registered with the IRS and can represent clients whose returns they have prepared and signed.” – Lucia Mezzomo, President of INSTAnT Agency.

“First and foremost, we recommend that the person preparing the returns (not just the principle 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 culpable for preparation errors to their respective policing agencies (Department of Treasury, State Accounting Boards, etc.) nor will they have proper Errors and Omissions insurance.” – Kenneth L Allen, Owner of Tax Resolution Specialists, Inc.

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.” – Michael Kisembo, President of Multi Professional Consultants.

“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.” – Igor Gomes, President of  Genesis Tax House.

Click here for more information and tips on handling the 2017 tax season from your local BBB. Check us out on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.

Paula Fleming is Chief Marketing & Sales Officer for Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT.  Find Paula on Google+.

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