Better Business Bureau Advice for Tax Season

Posted at: 01/20/2014 10:07 AM

Tax season is here again, and the IRS says it will be emphasizing online services and automation this year to navigate the hectic tax filing season. In light of one of the most rapidly growing scams – tax identity theft – Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota encourages people to file their tax returns early in the tax filing season, if possible, which begins this year on January 31.

"Tax identity theft is when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax refund or get a job," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. "Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics show that in 2012, tax identity theft accounted for over 40 percent of identity theft complaints. This is definitely a growing problem."

According to the FTC, you might find out you’ve been a victim of tax identity theft when you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or if IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t recognize. To avoid tax identity theft:

At a minimum, you should start gathering the materials you’ll need to file your taxes now rather than waiting until the last minute. BBB offers the following advice on tax preparation and how to find a trustworthy tax preparer:

According to the IRS, many tax preparation software companies will begin accepting returns in January and hold those returns until the IRS systems open at the end of this month. This includes the Free File partners that offer access to their software for free at freefile.irs.gov. The IRS will not process any tax returns before January 31, so there is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date. Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file or Free File with the direct deposit option.