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Be careful who you trust with your taxes, spot the red flags to avoid a mistake

Local tax experts concerned people will be targeted in lead up to Tax Day
Be careful who you trust with your taxes, spot the red flags to avoid a mistake
Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 08:36:00-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Tax Day is Monday and while some of you may have taken care of your filings weeks ago, we know many of our viewers may be scrambling to get this taken care of. News5 uncovers the red flags to look for so you don’t get ripped off or make a mistake when you hand over your tax information.

It’s part of the fraudster and scam artist playbook, they try to find people who are in a hurry and dealing with a topic they may not fully understand. Tax season can create these opportunities and as reputable tax preparers say they’re booked, fly by night companies could be waiting to get their hands on your information and refund dollars.

”We have had an enormous number of calls the last two days, people saying hey, can you do it now?,” said Kirk Harrison of Harrison Tax Services in Colorado Springs. “This entire desk was stacked this high in four different piles of stuff to check.”

It’s the busiest time of the year for Harrison, a licensed tax preparer. As he has to turn customers away, he’s concerned people are going to be in a vulnerable position having to make a split second decision to hand over sensitive information to people they don’t really know.

”If I do your taxes I know where you work. I’ve got your social security number. I know your kids’ names, I have their social security numbers. I have your banking information. I know where your retirement funds are. I have all that,” said Harrison.

Red Flag: Find out how the Tax Preparer charges their fees before you get started. 

”I can understand a company saying maybe we need $50 to file your extension. That makes perfect sense, but to say you have to pay for your whole return upfront, that’s not legit,” said Harrison.

Red Flag: If you notice a Tax Preparer is rushing you by quickly demanding you sign paperwork before reading over everything. It's important to always read the fine print. 

”Watch out for companies that say you’re not going to pay anything for this return because that’s not true,” said Harrison.

Red Flag: Does the Tax Preparer have a track record? 

”If a company calls you unsolicited and says hey we’ll do your taxes for you, be nervous. Be very nervous,” said Harrision. “Find out how long they’ve been in business. We’ve been in business since (19)72. Our top guy, his first tax return, I have one on my desk right there, 1962 was the first tax return he ever did. The guy knows what he’s doing.”

Red Flag: Before you hand over your taxes to somebody make sure you check qualifications and licensing.

The IRS has a directory where you can check these things yourself

Also, there are some free tools to help you prepare your own taxes, but these are income based.

Advice from AARP on finding help with taxes

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