The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services joins the Department of Consumer Protection and the Internal Revenue Service to offer tips to finding a qualified tax professional.
Said Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan, “Tax fraud is real and ongoing. Don't pay for bad preparers who may also be stealing your identity and your refund.”
“Many of us want to hire tax preparers to make sure our taxes get done correctly, and to save ourselves time, but it’s important to make sure you take the time you need in the hiring process,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris. “Tax preparers handle sensitive personal information, so it’s important to hire someone you trust. Always shop around and look at more than one option. Ask the preparer about their credentials, how long it will take to complete your taxes, what you will need to do and how you will communicate with them, and what it will cost. Make sure you have a clear picture of what your tax process will look like.”
Free assistance in completing Connecticut tax returns is available from the DRS by calling 860-297-5962 or in person at any of the regional walk-in centers in Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and Waterbury. The DRS website (http://www.ct.gov/drs) lists additional free tax return assistance with the federal return.
The Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants can help taxpayers find reputable CPAs. Consumers can verify the license of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) at www.elicense.ct.gov. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program also offers free tax help for low-to moderate-income people. Many Connecticut VITA Sites also offer free electronic filing.
Important tax filing tips include:
Select a tax preparer you can trust. Taxpayers entrust vital personal data with the person preparing their tax return, including income, investments and Social Security numbers. Ask questions about cost up front, and explore your options before making a decision.
Review the tax return and ask questions before signing. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their tax return, regardless of whether someone else prepared it.
Make sure the preparer signs the return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The vast majority of paid preparers are required to have a valid PTIN.
Never sign a blank tax return. It’s a red flag when a taxpayer is asked to sign a blank tax return. The preparer can put anything they want on the return — even their own bank account number for the tax refund.
Make sure that you make copies of your documents before giving them to a tax preparer. After your taxes are filed, keep your documents neatly organized and retain them for at least three years.
Visit IRS.Gov to search an online Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. The Directory lists credentialed return preparers who are CPAs, enrolled agents or attorneys, as well as those who have completed the requirements for the IRS Annual Filing Season Program.