BBB Tips for Tax Season and IRS Impersonators
by Jim Camp, President & CEO of BBB Serving Central South Carolina and Charleston
It’s that time of year again. Time to start thinking about taxes; and preparing ahead allows you to get your taxes done early with little hassle before the April 15th deadline. If you are unsure of a tax preparer to use, ask those whom you trust such as your family and friends to see what they recommend. You can also search for a BBB Accredited Business tax return preparer in the BBB Accredited Business Directory.
Tax preparation providers should not base their fees on a percentage of your refund. Before signing up with a tax preparer, verify their credentials and make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Also, ask about their accessibility after the time your taxes were filed and find out how to reach them during this off-season.
Ultimately, the taxpayer is the one responsible to the IRS for the paperwork, so it is best to ensure you use the best person possible.
Be sure to read the paperwork thoroughly. Understand how much it is going to cost for the service and how the cost may be affected if preparation is more complicated than expected. Ask if the tax preparation company will represent you if there is an audit. If you don’t understand something in the paperwork, be sure to ask for clarification.
When filing your taxes online, make sure all information is correct before submitting. Check the application for missing information or flags where other common errors occur. Be sure to sign and date the return with your self-selected personal identification number.
Better Business Bureau offices across the country have seen a substantial increase in consumers reporting income tax related scam calls. Here’s how the scam works:
You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the “U.S. Treasury” or from the “IRS.” The caller tells you that the tax return you submitted is fraudulent and there is a warrant for your arrest, or that you owe back taxes and there is a warrant for your arrest. The caller will say that they want to work with you to resolve the matter so that you won’t be arrested. Then, the caller will demand that money be sent immediately via wire transfer or prepaid debit card.
This is a SCAM! If there is a problem with your income tax return, the IRS will send you a letter. The U.S. Treasury will not call you and threaten to have you arrested.
If you get one of these calls, BBB has this advice:
- Don’t be intimidated, just hang up. If they call back, hang up again.
- Don’t let them keep trying to convince you that your arrest is imminent because the longer you stay on the line, the more fearful you could become.
- Don’t give out any personal information over the telephone to anyone who calls you, regardless of whether they claim they are from the IRS, the U.S. Treasury, the FBI or the Sheriff’s department. Scammers claim to be authority figures to scare you into doing what they want you to do.
- Don’t buy a prepaid debit card and give the caller the card number to pay your “taxes.”
- Don’t wire money to pay your taxes.
Finally, each and every tax payer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them.
If you have a question about a company or want to find an Accredited Business you can trust, visit BBB’s website at bbb.org or call us at 803-254-2525 or 843-766-9616.