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New tax report highlights what to watch for

Posted at 7:06 PM, Mar 31, 2016
You only have a couple more weeks to get your taxes done. But in the rush to file, don't fall for extra fees or untrained tax preparers. 
 
What do you think qualifies tax preparers to get the job done right?
 
"They have education...they have a degree that warrants their abilities," says taxpayer Carina Gaz.
 
"My assumption is that they probably have people who are reasonably well trained and can handle some fairly basic straightforward simple tax returns," says taxpayer Richard Schermerhorn.
 
But the National Consumer Law Center and Consumer Federation of America says that's not always the case.
 
They just released their annual Tax Time report and found 80% of people want paid preparers to pass a government test. 56% think they should have special training, but no degree. And 31% would like to see a college degree in accounting. 
 
"I have met a lot of people with masters degrees that I would never put in front of a client, even a masters in accounting, you can have a masters in accounting and not be tax trained or certified," says Steve McDermott, a Liberty Tax Service owner.
  
The report also warns taxpayers about excessive fees from refund anticipation loans. They were eliminated in 2012.
 
But the new report warns they're back, disguised as non-bank "no fee" services from payday loan companies. So ask questions before handing your W2 over to any preparer. 
 
"Compare it to talking to a doctor or a mechanic, question after question. If you get a sense this guy knows what he's talking about, and you get the sense of relationship, like I trust this guy, trust your instincts," says McDermott.