Filing your Tax Return- Rapid Refund or Rapid Trouble?

Who can you trust? Tax Time grinds on...and if you have a lot of deductions or you have investments and property it can seem very hard to do your own taxes. There are numerous companies both national and local that will offer to file your income taxes for you, for a small fee.

But should you use one of these companies, or try to file on your own? For the sake of argument let's say you want to have someone file your taxes for you. Depending on the company, you may be walking into a trap.

Are they qualified? Many of these tax prep company's employees are not IRS tax experts. They are not IRS enrolled agents. They've had a three week training course at best. When you go to them they're going to make all kinds of promises to get you more money than you've ever gotten back from Uncle Sam. Be very cautious at this point, "easy money" always has a catch.

Reputability Test: Here's a couple of quick tests to see if the company you choose to work with is reputable.

- Better Business Bureau Rating of A or higher
- No Unresolved Complaints with the BBB
- Refund Policy is offered
- The company employs CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and Experienced Tax Preparers

If you're not sure about the answers to any of these questions, ask them! It's your money after all, don't lose it to a skeevy company. Do some research.

They saw you coming a mile away. Do not be taken in by a "rapid refund". If your taxes are filed electronically you'll get the money in one-two weeks. A rapid refund seems great: the tax company pays you right away. But wait, this is actually a loan and your planned tax refund is the collateral. If you get audited, or your refund is denied, you still owe the tax prep company and you don't have your tax return refund or worse, you owe a tax debt to the IRS.

I'm not saying all of these companies are crooked. Many of them can help you with your income taxes if you feel like you're drowning in paperwork and don't know which tax form to use. Just remember to be careful because you don't want an IRS-HItman showing up at your door.

Now you have the smoking gun...Use it!