If you haven't filed, don't despair as there is a lot of help out there to be had. Plus you have several weeks to go before mid-April. Along those lines, IRS has many helpful avenues on IRS.gov. For example:
- Tax Scams
- Free Electronic Filing, a.k.a IRS FREE FILE
- Free Tax help/prep in your local community - hundreds of sites in CA!
- IRS 1040 Central - A good place to start
- Self-service tax tools - Check refunds, get transcripts, more
- IRS Tax tips - subscribe here. Speaking of, if you are going to choose a tax professional, here is a tip to help you choose one:
Many people hire a professional when it’s time to file their tax return. If you pay someone to prepare your federal income tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that person wisely. Even if you don’t prepare your own return, you’re still legally responsible for what is on it.
Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax preparer:
- Check the preparer’s qualifications. All paid tax
preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. In
addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask the preparer if they belong to a
professional organization and attend continuing education classes.
- Check the preparer’s history. Check with the Better Business Bureau
to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Check for disciplinary
actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants,
check with the state board of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state
bar association. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of
- Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base their fee on a
percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than
others can. Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into
your bank account. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s
- Ask to e-file your return. Make sure your preparer offers IRS
e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for
clients generally must file the returns electronically. IRS has safely processed
more than 1.2 billion e-filed tax returns.
- Make sure the preparer is available. Make sure you’ll be able to
contact the tax preparer after you file your return - even after the April 15
due date. This may be helpful in the event questions come up about your tax
- Provide records and receipts. Good preparers will ask to see your
records and receipts. They’ll ask you questions to determine your total income,
deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to
e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is
against IRS e-file rules.
- Never sign a blank return. Don’t use a tax preparer that asks you to
sign a blank tax form.
- Review your return before signing. Before you sign your tax return,
review it and ask questions if something is not clear. Make sure you’re
comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.
- Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN. Paid preparers
must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must
also give you a copy of the return.
- Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. You can
report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157,
Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or
changed the return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A,
Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. You can get these forms at
IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Additional IRS Resources:
- Tax Topic 254 - How to Choose a Tax Return Preparer
- Choosing a Tax Professional
- Verify the Status of an Enrolled Agent
- How to Make a Complaint About a Tax Return Preparer
- How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity
IRS YouTube Videos: