Number one: Don't get scammed!
- YOU are responsible for any mistakes, even fraud, by your tax preparer. The IRS will come after you, not the preparer. Choose carefully.
- There are places all over the state full of IRS trained and experienced tax preparers that will do your taxes for FREE. If you make less than $52,000 a year, call United Way 211 to find one of these places, called VITA sites, close to you.
- The IRS also provides FREE tax prep software on their website if you want to do your taxes on your own.
- If you're paying somebody to file your return, make sure they won't disappear after tax season. "Pop-up" tax prep locations might not be a good idea.
- The Better Business Bureau keeps tabs on tax scams. This year, one scam involves people pretending to be IRS agents calling and demanding tax payments right then, over the phone. The IRS doesn't do this. To report any tax scam you can call the BBB at 248-223-9400.
Number 2: Open your mail
This was the number one advice from the tax experts we talked to. Open your mail from the IRS!
- Just because you opened the mail, doesn't mean you can understand it. The IRS sends letters that even lawyers have a hard time understanding. If you're not sure what the IRS wants from you, call or go to a low income tax payer clinic.
- There's almost always a way to fix any problem with the IRS, it just might take some time.
- If you're calling, set aside at least an hour. Hold times with the IRS average about 45 minutes, and calls do get dropped.
Number 3: The IRS is friendlier than you think
Tax expert Michele Halloran said the IRS is willing to make a deal with almost all the taxpayers she represents.
- Halloran has seen the IRS write off thousands of dollars in debt for a deal and a $100 payment.
- If you are low income you can get legal help with your tax issue for free. Call the low income tax clinic at the University of Michigan 734-936-3535 or Michigan State University at 517-336-8088, Option 4. The IRS pays for these services to help low-income taxpayers.