Another tax season is upon us, and it’s time to collect any documents that might apply to your taxes, including a copy of last year’s return and your tax booklet.Published February 7, 2014
Another tax season is upon us, and it’s time to collect any documents that might apply to your taxes, including a copy of last year’s return and your tax booklet.
There are many options available for tax preparation, from free and fee-based software programs to tax preparation service firms and tax preparation professionals. If you are thinking about getting help from a tax preparation service provider, make sure you know what will be provided and how much it will cost. Remember to review the tax return before signing and ask questions on entries you do not understand. Double‑check the social security numbers. Get a copy for your record once you have signed it. Never sign a blank tax form or one that has been completed in pencil.
• Free tax preparation services and Free e-filing options are available for qualified active duty military and low income individuals – go to the “e-file” link on the North Dakota Tax Commissioner’s website at www.nd.gov/tax/. The IRS offers a faster refund to taxpayers who file electronically and select to direct deposit their refund.
• If you e-file, your tax refund can be deposited directly into your bank account in as little as seven days. If you don’t have a checking account, the IRS will mail your refund in as little as 14-21 days. The IRS also makes it easy to check on your refund, at www.irs.gov.
Be careful when choosing a tax preparer or tax preparation service provider. While most preparers provide good service, a few unscrupulous tax preparers file fraudulent tax returns and ultimately defraud their clients. Before hiring a tax preparer:
• Get referrals from your friends and satisfied clients; ask the preparer about their training, experience, current knowledge of tax law and whether the service includes representing you in case of an audit.
• Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return months or even years after the return has been filed.
Remember that you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your tax return.
Tax scams and refund
Tax season only comes once a year, but the better prepared you are, the less likely you will be to fall victim to a tax scam. There are two basic rules to remember to avoid tax scams:
• The IRS never sends unsolicited e-mails.
• The IRS never requests passwords, PINs, or other secret access information for your bank or credit card accounts.
Tax evasion scams, including fraudulent tax return preparation, cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year. Dishonest tax preparers can commit fraud in a number of ways, such as inflating expenses, or claiming false deductions or unallowable credits on returns prepared for their clients. Be very cautious of a tax preparer who:
• Claims that they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
• Bases the fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund instead of the complexity of the tax return.
• Refuses to sign the tax return, give you a copy, or provide a receipt.
• Claims they can get you immediate payment of your refund. This is actually a Refund Anticipation product, for which you pay an additional fee.
Before you pay a fee for the convenience of having access to your tax refund, consider the benefits of e-filing your return and having the IRS deposit your refund directly into your own bank account. You may wait a week or so for your money, but you won’t have any fees taken out before you get it.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division investigates allegations of fraud in the marketplace. Investigators also mediate individual complaints against businesses.
If you have a consumer problem or question, call the Consumer Protection Division at 328-3404, toll-free at 1-800-472-2600, or 1-800-366-6888 (w/TTY). This article and other consumer information is located on our website at www.ag.nd.gov.