Tax season is already upon us, and the deadline for filing your tax returns is fast approaching. The Office of Attorney General is committed to holding predatory businesses and individuals accountable, while helping residents avoid unnecessary fees, tax scams, and other pitfalls.
When is the tax filing deadline?
This year, the deadline is April 18.
Should I file my taxes early?
If possible, yes. Tax identity theft is rampant. Scammers may have enough information to file your tax return to collect your refund. If you file your taxes early, you are less vulnerable to this type of scam.
Is there free tax assistance in DC?
Many DC residents, including seniors, residents with disabilities, and low-income residents may qualify for free tax preparation services. Learn about whether you may qualify and where to get help in our recent consumer alert.
Is it possible to file my taxes myself?
Yes. To assist you in preparing your taxes, you may wish to use commercial tax preparation software, which uses a question-and-answer format to guide you through the process. Some software is free, depending on your income, the complexity of the return, whether you itemize your deductions, and other factors. Access the list of IRS partners here.
How can I find a trusted tax preparer?
Most paid tax preparers are reputable, but here are a few tips to spot potential scams if you chose to hire a paid tax preparer:
- Get referrals from friends and family. Once you have a few options, check the Better Business Bureau’s website at BBB.org and other review sites, paying close attention to other consumers’ reviews or complaint details.
- Be suspicious of people who contact you, rather than the other way around. If people appear at your door or call you by phone offering to help prepare your taxes or discuss payments, that is a red flag. The IRS does not use email, text messages, or social media to discuss tax debts or refunds with taxpayers.
- Check the preparer’s qualifications. You can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. EAs, CPAs, and tax attorneys are all qualified to represent their clients to the IRS on all matters.
- Be wary of spectacular promises. If a tax preparer promises you larger refunds than the competition, that is a red flag.
- Ask about service fees ahead of time. Before you agree to any services, understand how much the tax preparer charges and read your contract carefully. Ask about extra fees for e-filing state, federal, and local returns, as well as fees for any unexpected complications.
- Provide records and receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts.
- Never sign a blank return. Taxpayers should not use a tax return preparer who asks them to sign a blank tax form.
How can I report a tax scam in the District?
Please alert both the DC Metropolitan Police Department and OAG:
- D.C. Metro Police Financial & Cyber Crimes Unit
- (202) 727-4159
- Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Hotline
- (202) 442-9828
If you are over 65 or otherwise vulnerable, and if you have been the victim of a tax scam or financial abuse, please contact:
- The Office of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights and Elder Justice Section
- Elder Justice Hotline
- (202) 727-3807