Columbus, OH – When it comes to choosing a tax preparer, BBB advises taxpayers to be extra cautious about a local tax company. Consumers have reported a local tax service to BBB that collected their personal identifiable information but failed to complete their taxes.
Wood Bookkeeping & Tax Service, based in Grove City, Ohio, has a pattern of unresolved complaints concerning incomplete tax forms, unreturned tax materials, ignored phone calls and canceled appointments. BBB wrote to Mr. Donald Wood on September 25, 2017, and October 3, 2017, requesting the business’s voluntary cooperation in resolving the underlying cause for the complaints but has yet to receive a reply.
“If a tax preparer is sloppy or unethical, you may have to pay fees or fines or lose part or all of your refund. Or worse, your personal information could be used to commit identity theft, including income tax fraud,” says Kip Morse, President, and CEO of BBB Serving Central Ohio.
A consumer from Grove City provided Wood Bookkeeping & Tax Service with everything they needed to complete his taxes two weeks before the April deadline. His taxes were never completed, and he has not received his personal and tax information back after multiple attempts to contact Mr. Wood.
Choosing a tax preparer requires time, research and a high level of trust. BBB recommends the following tips for taxpayers interested in utilizing a tax preparer:
Ask for Referrals. To find a tax preparer, start by asking friends and family for recommendations. Search for all companies on bbb.org to see their rating, complaints and customer reviews.
Confirm they are registered properly. A tax preparer must obtain a PTIN from the IRS. Never let someone work on your taxes unless they have this number. Don’t be afraid to ask about this or other qualifications; a capable professional does not mind questions.
Look for credentials. Anyone with a PTIN can prepare your tax forms for you, but some tax preparers have more training and qualifications than others. Enrolled agents, certified public accountants (CPAs) and attorneys have unlimited rights to represent their clients to the IRS on all matters. Other preparers can help you with forms and simple IRS matters but are limited otherwise, and they can’t help you if they didn’t prepare your form. Learn more about tax preparer credentials on the IRS website.
Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund. Also be wary of “refund anticipation loans,” which can take a hefty chunk of your refund in commission. Refunds are processed quickly these days, so paying a premium price to receive them earlier may not be worth it.
Learn about free tax programs. There are several free government programs that prepare taxes free of charge if you meet an income requirement; go to the IRS’s Free File page for more information. You can also visit the Ohio Department of Taxation’s website.
Consumers can visit BBB’s Tax Resource Center to find additional information on finding a tax preparer, how to avoid popular tax scams and more.