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Use caution in choosing tax preparer

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Tax preparation professionals offer a variety of services in addition to completing your return. They are familiar with tax-saving strategies, can help you organize and plan for next year’s taxes and help you determine if you are required to pay taxes each quarter.

Make sure you choose a preparer who offers the services you need.

In 2014, Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming received 4,129 inquiries about tax professionals, including CPAs (1,341), accountants (1,027), tax-return services (1,102) and tax consultants (659).

“Inquiries for tax-related businesses have increased over the previous year, which tells us that consumers want to ensure they’re dealing with trustworthy professionals for both their tax and accounting needs,” said Shelley Polansky, vice president of communications for Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming.

The BBB offers these tips:

ASK FOR REFERRALS. Find out who your friends, family, even colleagues use to prepare their taxes and then check BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org to learn more about the business and to read customer reviews.

CHECK CREDENTIALS. Is the preparer a CPA, accountant or enrolled tax agent? Does the preparer belong to a professional organization that requires members to adhere to a code of ethics?

BE WARY OF PROMISES. Don’t be swayed by promises of big refunds. Until the preparer knows your situation, it’s impossible to know whether you’ll get a refund or how big it will be.

CHECK ACCESSIBILITY. Will the tax preparer be available to answer questions year-round? Or does he or she maintain office hours only during tax season?

WHAT’S THE COST? Does the preparation fee include later changes to your return? Will the fee increase if you have a complicated return? Will the preparer represent you in case of an audit?

REVIEW THE RETURN. Review your tax return and ask any questions before signing it. Never sign a blank return. Make sure you receive a copy for your records. Make sure the paid preparer signs the return along with his or her preparer tax identification number.

For more consumer tips and information, go to bbb.org.


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