Be aware of scams as you prepare to file taxes

Be aware of scams as you prepare to file taxes
Don’t be shy about asking a preparer what certifications they hold. (Source: SOURCE: Pexels)

(KFVS) - It is tax season and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants you to be prepared.

Tax scams were reported many times in 2019. BBB officials said to be aware of the potential for fraud as when collecting W-2 forms from employers and preparing to file returns.

Check a tax preparer’s BBB Business Profile before you file and watch out for pitfalls that trip up taxpayers every year, BBB officials advise

You’ll also need to make sure you have all relevant documents like 1099 forms in addition to your W-2 forms.

BBB officials said in 2019, consumers filed more than 1,500 complaints about tax preparers. Consumers reported tax-related scams to BBB as well. BBB Scam Tracker received more than 1,000 reports of such scams in 2019.

The complaints cited delays in getting refunds, poor service or tax preparation offices that shut down abruptly.

Don’t be shy about asking a preparer what certifications they hold, how long they’ve been preparing taxes and what will happen if the Internal Revenue Service rejects or challenges your return.

BBB officials said some tax preparers may offer a check or debit card rather than wait for the IRS to mail your refund. These are typically loans, sometimes with hidden fees and interest rates of 50 to 500 percent.

The loans give consumers their refund in a few days, faster than the IRS, which can deposit refunds in your bank in as few as 10 days.

BBB officials said there can be consequences if a preparer makes a mistake in calculating your refund. Borrowers may have to pay back the loan plus any fines and fees.

The IRS says taxpayers should suspect identity fraud if they receive a letter from the IRS saying that more than one tax return was filed for them or if the letter states that you received wages from an employer you don’t know.

BBB advises the following, if you decide to hire a tax preparer:

  • Ask for referrals from friends.
  • Review the preparer’s customer service record with BBB at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887 before you hire anyone.
  • Check credentials. Is the preparer a certified public accountant (CPA), a tax lawyer or an enrolled agent? Will the preparer sign your return and provide you with a copy? Does the preparer belong to a professional organization that requires members to adhere to a code of ethics?
  • Be wary of promises that you’ll get a refund. Until the preparer knows your situation, there is no way to know whether you’ll get a refund or how big it will be.
  • Check accessibility. You may need to contact your preparer after tax season is over. Will he or she be available?
  • Read the contract. Know what preparing your return will cost, what the fee covers and whether the cost changes if you have a complicated return. Will the preparer represent you in case of an audit?
  • Check your return. Before you sign the return, read it over to check for mistakes. Ask the preparer to explain anything you don’t understand. Don’t forget to sign it.

Consumers may obtain a BBB Business Profile on an individual business at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.

Copyright 2020 KFVS. All rights reserved.