• Check out your preparer. All tax preparers, whether working individually or as part of a national tax preparation chain,
must be licensed by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. Make sure your preparer is properly
licensed by going to DLLR’s web site: http://www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/. In addition, ask preparers for their required Preparer
Tax Identification Numbers or PTINs before agreeing to pay for their services.
• Ask about fees. Some tax preparers do not fully disclose all their fees up front. To avoid surprises, ask for a list of all charges
and potential fees before having your taxes prepared.
• Avoid Refund Anticipation Loans. Many tax preparers offer to provide your refund immediately in the form of a refund “loan”
(sometimes also called “Refund Anticipation Check”). If you take this option, however, fees and interest on that loan will be
deducted from your refund. Instead, choose to get your refund directly deposited into your bank account. The deposit is usually
made in just a few days, and you will get the full amount of your refund.
• File early. Identity thieves try to steal money from the IRS by filing returns using stolen social security numbers. This also
results in a lot of hassle and delayed refunds for tax payers. By filing early, you can reduce the odds of becoming a victim.
• Get help. If you made less than $53,000 in 2014 and need assistance with tax preparation and filing, the Howard County
non-profit Making Change offers free tax preparation services through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.
Visit their website at www.makingchangecenter.org, or call 410-880-5917 for more information. You can also get assistance
from the AARP Tax-Aide Program. Visit www.aarp.org for more information.
For more information on this and other consumer topics, contact the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs at www.howardcountymd.gov/consumer or call 410-313-6420.