Tips for filing income tax returns - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tips for filing income tax returns

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December 20, 2004

Thomasville - Income tax season kicks off January 1st, as businesses begin sending out W-2 forms. The fastest way to get your refund is through an RAL: refund anticipation loan. H & R Block Manager Tony Barrow says, "It is a loan in anticipation of your refund."

But a fast return, isn't necessarily a good return. With an RAL, you'll have to pay a fee to the bank loaning you the money, and a fee to the person preparing your return. Some companies aren't up front about those fees. About those companies, Barrow says, "So you never know, actually how much you're paying."

The bank requires a disclosure statement be given out with your check. This has the total amount of the refund, minus fees. If the two are separated and you don't get the disclosure form, you shouldn't accept the check. Rather, call the bank that the check was issued from. In most cases, it will be from Bank One (1-800-365-1040) or Imperial Household Bank (1-800-524-0628). If the preparation fees are different from what you were told, call the IRS. If you cash the check, it may be too late to get your money back. Barrow says, "By you having cashed the check, you have basically approved of the services that you've gotten."

Here are some things to look for when having your taxes prepared: 1)Look for a credible tax preparer that is accessible all year long. 2)Get total amount of both the preparers fee and the bank fee in writing. 3)Get a copy of your return and your loan agreement. 4)Don't be misled. You must have your W-2s in order to file. You cannot file using your last pay stub until after February 15th.

And remember, you can always prepare your taxes yourself to avoid large fees altogether. If you feel you've been ripped off by a tax preparer, you can report them to the IRS by calling the IRS hotline at 1-800-829-0433.

posted at 4:45 PM by karen.collier@walb.com