CHICAGO, IL – During this tax season, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Chicago and Northern Illinois advises taxpayers to avoid making common mistakes by using caution when selecting tax preparation help. This step will avoid headaches, fines or fees if the return is not correct or filed late.
In the past 12-month period the number of inquiries about tax return preparation received by the BBB rose to 10,925 from 8,052. This was an increase of 36 percent.
“A tax refund can provide much-needed aid for families enduring financial hardship,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The increase in our inquiries about tax preparation shows that people are being more cautious about who they choose for assistance in their taxes. Your BBB advises taking the time to be thorough the first time around to avoid a headache in the future.”
The BBB offers the following tips for individuals still working on their returns:
- Research tax preparers you can trust for free at www.bbb.org
- Be wary of Tax Refund Anticipation Loans. This is a loan provided by a third party against a taxpayer’s expected refund. The tax refund anticipation loan is not provided by the U.S. Treasury or the IRS and is subject to the interest and fees set by the lender. Some of these lenders have hidden fees and file inaccurate tax returns without consumer consent.
- Check for missing, incorrect or illegible Social Security Numbers which can delay a tax refund.
- Taxpayers must sign and date returns. Both spouses must sign a joint return, even with one income. Anyone paid to prepare a return must also sign.
- File electronically instead of using paper tax forms to receive your refund more rapidly.
- Make any check out to “United States Treasury” and enclose it with, but don’t attach it to, your return or Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. Include your Social Security number, daytime phone number, the tax year and the type of form filed.
- Be sure to keep all receipts and other documents and forms that were used in preparing your tax return. IRS, generally, has three years to audit a return. They can audit you without limitation if you do not file, file a false return, or purposely avoid paying taxes.
For more advice on finding professionals you can trust, visit www.bbb.org