Not All Tax Preparers Are Created Equal

By Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA (tax)
Managing Partner
Greenstein Rogoff Olsen & Co. LLP

You have a lot of choices when it comes to filing your taxes. There is no shortage of options whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or you hire a tax preparer. However, if you are one of the many people who choose to hire someone else to do your taxes, you should be aware that not all tax preparers are created equal. As is often the case in life, you get what you pay for.

Grocery Stores Are for Groceries

Just about anyone who has been to their local grocery store or supermarket, or even one of the big retail department chains, has probably seen a cubicle set up from one of the many tax-preparation chains right there in the main aisle. Sure, it probably seems like a good idea. You drop off all your tax information to someone in that cubicle and off you go to fill your cart with next week’s groceries. Forty-five minutes later you’re ready to check out and take your tax receipt with you. What could be easier than that, right? In actuality, you’re better off leaving your taxes and your groceries separate.

Not Worth the Price

There are a few reasons that you should avoid these kinds of tax preparation services, including the privacy factor. While it might seem like your information is safe, there are a lot of people who pass by at any given moment in a grocery store who could be privy to your private information. However, the biggest reason to avoid these kinds of services is that they simply just aren’t worth the money. In fact, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, they are all set up with the same goal in mind: to charge you as much as they can get away with to file your taxes.

Nothing Is for Free

Some of these outfits even promote a free gift for using their services. However, according to one former employee, the company he worked for actually charged its customers for that “free” $50 gift card. The amount of the card was actually included in the list of filing fees, which means there was nothing free about it. Meantime, the fees are not set and they are based on questionable practices. Customers are even told they are being charged for “a variety of optional add-on services.” That means you could be charged for just about any arbitrary fee the preparer can think of.

Don’t Trust Any Guarantee

If the preparer offers you an insurance policy, which guarantees a mistake-free return, avoid it like a plague. You will never see that money again, because it’s only good if they make a mistake. First off, you don’t want to take your taxes to someone who implies there’s a chance they could make a mistake. Secondly, they only prepare returns in a way that any mistake would leave the blame with the taxpayer and not the preparer.

Prey on Desperation

Another way these services take advantage of taxpayers is by preying on their need for money. If you really need the money then they will charge you more. If you’re desperate for your refund they will offer you ways to get it faster, but they will charge you more for the quick turnaround. Plus, the fact is, unless they pay you before your return is processed there is no way they can speed up your refund. It will be handled like any other refund that the IRS processes.

Trustworthy and Reliable

While it might seem like an easy way to get your taxes done, with very little hassle on your part, in actuality these tax prep services are designed to take you for every penny they can. So next time you go grocery shopping, leave the supermarket for your groceries and leave your taxes to the experts. You can trust the experience and reliability of GROCO for your tax return. Call us today at 1-877-CPA-2006.