Better Business Bureau

February 17, 2012 by staff 

Better Business Bureau, Tax season is upon us again and the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont is encouraging taxpayers to do some legwork before selecting tax preparation help. Doing your research ahead of time may help you avoid getting hit with fines and fees if your return isn’t correct or filed late. According to the IRS, taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their tax return even if it is prepared by someone else, so, it’s important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare your return.

“For many people, working with a tax preparer provides peace of mind,” said Paula Fleming, vice president of the local BBB. “However, since tax professionals have access to so much of your personal information, you want to be sure to check out their background and qualifications.”

The BBB offers the following advice on 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

• Look for credentials. Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney, an enrolled agent or certified E-file provider. Be sure to find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides or requires its members to pursue continuing education and holds them accountable to a code of ethics.

• Make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. 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 for enrolled agents.

• Don’t fall for the promise of big refunds. By wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.

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