BBB Shares Tips for Finding Tax Prep Help


      It's a new year and that means it's time to start figuringout your taxes - or at least figuring out who will do your taxes. Because ofall the new tax laws just passed, even those whonormally wouldn't use a tax professional might want to rethink that.

      In 2012, BBB serving Nebraska, SouthDakota, the Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa received 3,038 inquiries regardingtax-return services; 4,173 inquiries for CPAs; and 1,666 inquiries for accountants.

      According to the IRS, 80 percent ofAmericans enlist the help of a tax preparer or tax software when filing taxes.Taxpayers are legally responsible for their tax returns if prepared by someoneelse. This is why it's important to choose carefully when hiring an individualor firm to prepare your return.

      New regulations require all paid tax returnpreparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. IRS advisesusing only tax specialists who sign the returns they prepare and enter theirPTINS.

      In addition, your BBB recommends that you:

      Ask for referrals. Find out who yourfriends, family, even colleagues use for their taxes and then check their BBB business reviews. This is a great way to check out any business,including accountants and other tax professionals.

      Check credentials. Is the preparer a CPA,a tax lawyer or an enrolled agent? Will the preparer sign your return andprovide you with a copy? Does the preparer belong to a professionalorganization that requires members to adhere to a code of ethics?

      Be wary of promises. Until the preparerknows your situation, there is no way to know whether you'll get a refund orhow big it will be.

      Check accessibility. You may need tocontact your preparer after the tax season is over. Will they be available?Will the return be filed electronically? Any paid preparer who prepares andfiles for more than 10 clients must do so electronically, unless a paper returnis requested.

      Know what the service will cost. Does the fee coverchanges to your return? Will it increase if you have a complicated return? Willthe preparer represent you in case of an audit? Make sure any refund due issent directly to you or deposited into an account in your name.

      Review the return before signing it. Never sign a blankreturn. Make sure you receive a copy of the return for your own records, andmake sure the paid preparer signs the return.

      Start With Trust. For more tips andinformation, visit or call toll-free 800-649-6814.