The April 15th deadline has been and gone to file your personal 1040 returns for this year.
And you may have filed an extension and you want to relax yes? Sorry but one thing to bear in mind is that an extension is not a free ride. If you are a tax payer who owes tax then you will still be liable to pay that tax, plus penalties and interest.
So OK, you have the extension now what? Easy work to get the tax filing done asap!
Then relax just a bit!
(remember its not a free ride for those who filed a corporate extension either)
During Tax season, many taxpayers looking to have their taxes filed complain about tax preparation “schemes” and scammers. Some scammers deliberately collect identification numbers and Social Security information, which is consequently then used to steal people’s money or identities.
Taxpayers need to be alert to tax preparation businesses that suddenly pop up and offer very low fees to get people through the door, but then increase the final fee, claiming the tax return was more involved than anticipated, or to a so called tax preparer who electronically withdraws more than the agreed upon fee without notice to the consumer.
As people look for help in filing their taxes, we suggest to follow these simple guidelines:
• Use only recognizable and established companies
• Check the registered tax preparer's qualifications and experience
• Ask for a written estimate of all fees
• Avoid those who base their fees on a percentage of your refund
• Make sure the tax preparer is accessible, even after the April due date
• Never sign a blank return
• Review entire return before signing
• Make sure the preparer signs the tax form and includes a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN
• Avoid "too good to be true" promises, as they are too good to be true.
Taxpayers should also beware of refund anticipation loans (RAL’s) and refund anticipation checks, RAL's are often marketed as "instant" refunds but may actually turn out to be high cost loans that come with fees and interest that reduce the amount of any refund.
You can avoid the costs of refund anticipation loans and checks by filing return electronically and having refunds either mailed or directly deposited into your own bank account.
Remember, all paid preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number before preparing returns, so you must ask to see verification of this before you go any further with them, if they avoid this subject walk away fast.
Also if you plan to use a CPA, be aware not all CPA's are tax experts. Yes a CPA may prepare and sign a tax form, however Tax is a specialist area that not every CPA is aware of. Another source of good tax preparation help is that of the Enrolled Agent or EA. All EA's are certified tax expert and specialize in Tax matters having sat and passed board tests.
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