abc
QUICK LINKS:

Better Business Bureau Advice for Tax Season

Created: 01/20/2014 10:07 AM WDIO.com

Tax season is here again, and the IRS says it will be emphasizing online services and automation this year to navigate the hectic tax filing season. In light of one of the most rapidly growing scams – tax identity theft – Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota encourages people to file their tax returns early in the tax filing season, if possible, which begins this year on January 31.

"Tax identity theft is when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax refund or get a job," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. "Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics show that in 2012, tax identity theft accounted for over 40 percent of identity theft complaints. This is definitely a growing problem."

According to the FTC, you might find out you’ve been a victim of tax identity theft when you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or if IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t recognize. To avoid tax identity theft:

  • Don’t give out your Social Security number unless necessary.
  • Use a secure Internet connection if you file your taxes electronically.
  • Be aware the IRS won’t contact you by email, text or through social media; if they need information, they will contact you by mail.
  • If your Social Security Number has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year – for free – at annualcreditreport.com.

At a minimum, you should start gathering the materials you’ll need to file your taxes now rather than waiting until the last minute. BBB offers the following advice on tax preparation and how to find a trustworthy tax preparer:

  • Ask around. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use and check BBB reports on tax preparers and tax preparation services at bbb.org.
  • Don’t fall for the promise of big refunds. Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and steer clear of tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.
  • Look for credentials. Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney, an enrolled agent or a certified E-file provider.
  • Make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A PTIN must be obtained by all tax return preparers who are compensated for preparing or assisting in the preparation of, all or substantially all of any U.S. federal tax return, claim for refund, or other tax form submitted to the IRS.
  • Investigate whether the preparer has any questionable history with your state’s Board of Accountancy (for CPA’s), the State Bar Association (for attorneys) or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) for enrolled agents.
  • Remember that a Paid Preparer is required by law to sign your return and fill in the preparer areas of the form. They should also include their appropriate identifying number on the return. In addition, the preparer must give you a copy of your return.
  • Consider 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, you might need to be able to contact your tax preparer throughout the year; be sure to find out how you would do so.
  • Read the contract carefully. Read tax preparation service contracts closely to ensure you 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 you in case of an audit.
  • Don’t forget about Free File. If your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less, Free File offers free Federal tax preparation and e-filing. Visit irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free to learn more.

According to the IRS, many tax preparation software companies will begin accepting returns in January and hold those returns until the IRS systems open at the end of this month. This includes the Free File partners that offer access to their software for free at freefile.irs.gov. The IRS will not process any tax returns before January 31, so there is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date. Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file or Free File with the direct deposit option.
 

Front Page

  • Thousands of Northlanders go to Thanksgiving Buffet at the DECC

    The annual Twin Ports Region Thanksgiving Buffet was held at the DECC on Thursday. This is the 25th year of the dinner produced by Twin Ports community volunteers and the College of St. Scholastica. The event served an estimated 65 hundred meals including 13 hundred meals that were delivered around the area.

  • Shoppers Make Thanksgiving Bargain Hunting New Tradition

    More and more Americans are now making gift shopping on Thanksgiving a new holiday tradition, and in Duluth, one retail welcomed shoppers at 7 a.m. on Turkey Day with deals. Experts say 25 million shoppers will hit stores to take advantage of the early deals this Thanksgiving....

  • One Man Dead After House Fire in Town of Superior

    One man is dead after a house fire broke out in the Town of Superior on Thursday morning. It happened around 1:30 a.m. on the 6300 block of South Darrow Road. Crews arrived on the scene to find the lower floor of the two-story house fully engulfed.

  • Group Aims to Spread the Love to Service Members Overseas

    'Tis the season to give and a group of women in northwestern Wisconsin is spreading the love to our service members overseas. They need the public's help to fill 300 boxes before Christmas.

  • 1 Killed, 3 Injured in Alborn Township Rollover

    A rollover in Alborn Township turned fatal early Thursday morning. A 48-year-old Shoreview woman was killed in the crash. Officials say her name is being withheld until her family is notified.

 

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Crow Wing; North Cass; Northern Aitkin; Pine; South Aitkin; South Cass
Expires: 11/28/2014 4:00 PM

Winter Weather Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: Clay; East Becker; East Marshall; East Otter Tail; East Polk; Hubbard; Kittson; Mahnomen; Norman; North Clearwater; Pennington; Red Lake; South Beltrami; South Clearwater; Wadena; West Becker; West Marshall; West Otter Tail; West Polk
Expires: 11/28/2014 12:00 PM

Winter Weather Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Burnett; Price; Sawyer; Washburn
Expires: 11/28/2014 4:00 PM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement