Each year during tax time millions of consumers put their financial future in the hands of strangers, trusting that these tax preparers — who are largely unregulated — know the rules, will get them the best possible result (hopefully a refund), and won’t sell them on a product that costs more than it’s worth. But in the world of complicated tax codes and credits, consumers continue to face a long list of risks, including untrained preparers, undisclosed fees, and dangerous refund anticipation products. [More]
Federal prosecutors are asking the court to shut down a Liberty Tax Service franchise in South Carolina, alleging that these locations have deliberately prepared false and inflated federal tax refunds by giving them income from fictional jobs and claiming children that don’t exist. [More]
With the deadline for filing your annual tax return coming quickly, millions of Americans are putting their 1040s and other forms in the hands of largely unregulated paid tax preparers. But a new undercover report from the National Consumer Law Center finds that many of these preparers either don’t know what they’re doing or are allowing taxpayers to file false information. [More]
Happy first day of tax season! Today is the first day that you can file your federal income tax return. Most Americans have to file a tax return, but a substantial number of people still don’t have bank accounts and conduct life in cash. Walmart wants to keep people in that situation away from check-cashing stores…and keep them in Walmart with a great big wad of cash in their wallets. [More]
It’s almost time for W-2s and other tax documents to start winging their way from employers to our homes, and for the anxiety-inducing yearly tax season to begin. But taxes don’t have to be scary if your dad is there to help. Or, if your own dad isn’t around or doesn’t know anything about taxes, how about my dad? [More]
Many of us find the Internal Revenue Service’s income tax return pretty darn difficult to figure out, which is why companies like H&R Block exist — ostensibly, to help customers maneuver the complicated forms and get them a nice tax refund if possible. But it seems H&R finds those forms confusing, too. [More]
Usually, our staff Certified Tax Cat handles readers’ questions about taxes, but he got his tax refund early this year and is on vacation, taking a salmon-watching cruise on the Pacific coast. Filling in for him is Laura’s dad, a retired accountant and real live independent tax preparer. Exclusively on Consumerist this spring, Tax Dad answers your questions. [More]
Seriously old-school Consumerist fans might remember Ask Meghann’s Dad, where readers sent in questions about electrical wiring and home repair, and Mr. Marco was all competent and helpful. During a meeting to think of new story ideas, we remembered this and asked ourselves: what other experts do we have access to who are also related to us? Why, there’s our very own Tax Dad, independent tax preparer John Northrup. [More]
You know that I love you all and would just love to prepare every last one of your 1040s this year. But between my existing clients and that centipede I can’t seem to catch, I’m booked solid through tax day. [More]
Just because the economy is imploding doesn’t mean you should entirely freeze your spending. The Wall Street Journal brings us a list of five things that are well worth their price, even in a recession.
Tax Cat here. It’s that time of year again when our thoughts turn from the lovely holiday season to the pile of receipts and other crap that we don’t want to deal with — taxes. If you’re thinking of hiring someone to prepare your taxes this year — the IRS has some tips that will help you choose a qualified professional.
Last week we wrote about I-Can! E-File, a free electronic filing service for your federal income taxes. It’s a great idea, and we’re thankful to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for doing something like this—but you might want to find an alternative this year and give them some time to work out the kinks. Today a reader emailed us to point out that icanefile.org’s password system can be easily cracked, because instead of letting you choose an original password, it requires you to use your name and social security number to set up an account.
I-CAN! is a web-based tax preparation tool that will file your tax return completely free of charge. I-CAN has no eligibility criteria or income restrictions and will eFile your state return for free if you live in California, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania or Montana. It almost sounds too good to be true. So why isn’t I-CAN! a member of the IRS’ Free File Alliance?