NYC Department of Consumer Affairs: Check For Red Flags Before Using A Tax Preparation Service

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NEW YORK — Hiring a Tax Preparation Service This Tax Season? The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) offers the following advice:

Avoid “Instant,” “Rapid,” “Express” or “Fast Cash” refunds.

“Instant” refunds are actually loans with extremely high interest rates known as refund anticipation loans (RALs). RALs must be repaid even if you don’t get your refund or it is smaller than you expected. If you have a bank account and file your taxes electronically, you can arrange for direct deposit of your refund in as little eight days. Ask your tax preparer about this option.

  • Know Your Rights When Dealing with Tax Preparers.

Tax preparers must post their qualifications, fees and charges, and whether or not they will represent you at a government audit. Preparers must sign every tax return, and provide you with a copy of your tax return and a receipt for your services.

  • Protect Yourself.

Tax preparers may not charge you fees based on the amount of taxes you owe or your anticipated refund. Never sign a tax return that is blank, incomplete, or filled out in pencil. It could be changed later. Tax preparers are required by law to give each customer a free, current, and legible copy of the Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers before any discussions with a consumer. Visit nyc.gov to download a copy.

  • Don’t pay cash.

Never mail cash when paying your taxes. Pay by check or money order only.

  • File a complaint with DCA.Call 311 or visit nyc.gov to contact DCA.