LANSING — State Representative Alberta Tinsley Talabi (D-Detroit) urges taxpayers to be careful when selecting people to assist with tax return preparations this season. While most tax preparers are professional and reliable, some use scams, frauds and high-pressure tactics to cheat people out of their tax refund or gain access to sensitive personal information.

“It is important to make wise choices when it comes to selecting a tax preparer,” Rep. Tinsley Talabi said. “I am working hard to give people information that will empower them to choose reputable tax preparers and to avoid scams and fraud. People work hard for their money, and they don’t deserve to be taken advantage of at tax time.”

Rep. Tinsley Talabi offers the following suggestions to avoid tax scams:

·        Beware of tax preparers who claim they can get you a larger refund than anyone else. The information you provide should get you the same refund no matter who prepares your taxes.

·        Be wary of preparers who base their fee on the size of your refund.

·        Never sign a blank tax form given to you by a preparer.

·        Ask to see a preparer’s tax identification number.

·        Review a copy of your tax return before it is submitted.

·        Avoid promises of refund anticipation loans. If you need your refund quickly, you can have the IRS or Michigan Department of Treasury direct deposit the funds into your bank account.

·        Never give out any information to someone who says they are calling from the IRS. The IRS never initiates contact by phone or email, and never demands immediate payment without giving you a chance to appeal.

·        Be aware that IRS agents will never threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

·        Never give any information to someone emailing you from the IRS. The IRS does not initiate communication with a taxpayer through email.

Free help is available to people who meet certain income guidelines. In the Metro Detroit area, you can contact the Accounting Aid Society at (313) 556-1920 to learn where to go for help. You can also dial 2-1-1 and ask for no-cost tax preparation services in your area.

“My office is available to help people find free or low-cost tax preparation services, and to assist people who feel they have been taken advantage of,” Rep. Tinsley Talabi said. “It is my hope that area residents will make it through this tax season without falling victim to predatory tax preparers.”