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BBB: Where to turn for tax prep during government shutdown

Posted: 11:22 AM, Jan 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-22 14:10:44-05

As  the first day taxpayers are allowed to file their 2018 tax return approaches (Jan. 28), some may wonder whether our current partial government shutdown will throw a wrench in their plans.

According to the Better Business Bureau, it just might.

Those who are trying to reach IRS employees for answers to tax-related questions may find that it is harder to get in touch with them and get the needed information. This makes it more important than ever to use a qualified tax preparer

Last year, the BBB received nearly 3,000 complaints about tax-related services, slightly up from 2017. The most common complaints allege the tax preparer made errors resulting in fines and fees. Other complaints mentioned contract and billing issues, while some customer reviews related to bad customer service.

This year, the BBB has the following advice for finding a trustworthy tax preparer:

  • Research at bbb.org: Visit BBB.org for a list of trustworthy tax preparation services. Review their complaint history and customer reviews to make sure they are a service you want to work with.
  • Check credentials: Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, tax attorney or enrolled agent. All three can represent you before the IRS in all matters, including audits.
  • Beware of BIG promises: Be cautious around tax preparers promising larger refunds than the competition. Avoid any tax preparer who bases their fee on a percentage of your refund.
  • Consider accessibility: Some tax preparation services only set up shop for the months leading up to April 15th. Keep in mind that if the IRS finds errors and you get audited, you will need to be able to contact your preparer at any moment during the year.
  • Read the contract: Make sure to read the tax preparation service contracts closely, to ensure you understand issues such as cost for the service, how the cost will be affected if preparation is more complicated or time consuming than expected, and whether the tax preparer will represent you in the case of an audit.

Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org or call (361) 852-4991.