Whether it brings dread or anticipation, the tax season is officially opened. On January 27, the IRS began accepting 2019 tax returns. Let’s start with the big question – how long will my refund take? The average refund check last year was nearly $2,900. This represents the largest "paycheck" each year for about 44 percent of taxpayers, according to a December survey from Credit Karma. No wonder so many taxpayers eagerly anticipate their annual refund checks. According to the IRS, most refunds will be processed within three weeks of electronic filing. Paper filing will take longer. You can check the status of your refund at https://www.irs.gov/refunds . This is the second tax year since President Trump’s tax reform bill became law. Unsurprisingly, the rhetoric behind the bill that returns would be simplified to the point that they could be done on a “postcard” did not come to pass. Indeed, the tax code is as complex as it has ever been. Therefore, millions of Americans will continue to turn to paid tax preparers. Unfortunately, most folks are unaware that nearly all states have more regulatory requirements for hairdressers than tax preparers. Certified public accountants, tax lawyers, enrolled agents credentialed by the IRS, and certain unpaid volunteers are the only tax preparers subject to testing and regulatory oversight. The lack of oversight has led to widespread and endemic problems across the industry. Mystery shopper testing done by the government agencies and consumer advocacy groups over the last several years have revealed high levels of errors and instances of fraud, ranging from 25 percent to over 90 percent. Accordingly, Bordas & Bordas recommends ttaxpayers consider a credentialed preparer, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), an enrolled agent, an attorney, or a preparer who has voluntarily completed the IRS Annual Filing Season Program. A directory of credentialed preparers is available on the IRS website. Often a CPA can prepare your return for similar or even lower pricing than the chain store fronts. A free or inexpensive alternative for low-income taxpayers is a free tax preparation site. These include VITA sites (1-800-906-9887 or https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/) and AARP Tax-Aide sites. Choosing a VITA or AARP Tax-Aide site saves eligible taxpayers the cost of a tax preparation fee. Many VITA sites can also help taxpayers open a bank account or get a low-cost prepaid card, which enables taxpayers to get refunds faster via direct deposit without paying a fee. We wish you a good return again this year!