By Ivy Ford, EM Tax columnist, owner of Tax Biz
1. Security Breaches /Beware
- Tax-related identity theft is a continuing problem, with the National Tax Advocate reporting use of stolen Social Security numbers.
- Identity theft with the IRS doubled in 2013.
- There was a huge security breach with Target this past holiday season where social security numbers were stolen as well as other pertinent information.
- Protect your identity by consulting a TRUSTWORTHY and Knowledgeable tax preparer.
- If you are a victim of IRS identity theft, you must contact the IRS immediately. Most times they will assign you a personal PIN number to prevent any further unlawful use of your social security number to file taxes. But make sure you contact other entities such as credit bureaus, the social security administration, and banks to notify them of the identity theft.
2. Filing Early Facts
- The IRS has released the official e-file start date of Jan. 31, 2014.
- Shopping around for Free quotes? Be aware that some tax places may take your information and try to file it regardless of your decision to use them to officially file your taxes. Once the return is sent to the IRS and is accepted you can no longer use another preparer.
- Be very suspicious of tax preparers that promise to get your return in early
The date remains the same for every one. Sometimes the IRS may adjust the date, but this will be posted on their website.
- Do Not Use your last check stub. This is against the law and all calculations may not match your W2, especially if you have benefits and/or investment plans deducted from your check. Also, it could result in you owing more money because of wrong numbers used in calculations on your Federal Form. W2’s are required to be mailed by Jan. 31.
- Just remember the amount of time that takes to receive your refund from the IRS will always be the same once it is accepted via e-file.
3. Free e-file vs Using a Paid Tax Preparer
- Do you have a simple return? Even is your return is simple, are you getting the maximum deductions allowed for the current tax year? In my research with many online free tax software, I have found that answering the questions throughout the process dictates whether or not you are given certain deductions and credits. These questions are necessary to determine if you are eligible these deductions and/or credits, but if you answer incorrectly you will not get the refund you were anticipating.
- Do you feel as if you have done your taxes for years and you know what you are doing? Remember from year to year, the laws change and deductions and credits are always changing as well. Not knowing how to properly apply these changes may cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars in your refund.
- Don’t want to pay a lot in fees for tax services using a tax preparer? Do your research. You may want to choose a tax store that does not charge excessive fees, but provides a wealth of knowledge and great customer service. Research the fees for a small trustworthy tax office as opposed to the larger chains. Using a smaller tax office may also help establish a personal relationship with your preparer who will be more knowledgeable about your situation.
- Does it add up? Some tax businesses are offering money for your business, but BEWARE, most times the cost is added back into your fees for preparation plus more. (Ex. We will give you $50, but when you get your preparer fees breakdown, you are paying well over $450 to $600)
Research: IRS.gov and TaxPro Today
About Ivy Ford
Ivy Ford is a seasoned tax preparer with more than 15 years of experience in the tax industry. She is a master tax specialist and owner of Tax Biz, Inc. with offices in Houston and Fresno. To find out more, visit one of the following convenient Tax Biz locations at 12033 Highway 6, Ste. 600, Fresno, Texas 77545 or 15822 S. Post Oak Rd., Houston, Texas 77053. You can follow her on Twitter @taxbizinc and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/taxbizinctoday. If you have a tax question, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.