IRS Warns of Fraudulent Tax Preparers
This is the tax season and if you are looking for someone to prepare your taxes in Yakima make sure you choose with care say officials with the Internal Revenue Service. Many people trust friends or family members with preparing tax returns and while that's a popular practice remember you are responsible for the information on your return. Internal Revenue Service officials say even though a good majority of tax return preparers are honest and provide quality service some aren't honest and can cause you years of problems down the road. A release from the IRS says "some cause great harm through fraud, identity theft and other scams every year." Paid tax return preparers completed more than half of the tax returns submitted to the IRS in tax-year 2018.
If you decide to hire a tax professional and not a friend or family member it's important to select the right professional. Internal Revenue Service officials say you'll be trusting them with your most sensitive personal and financial information.
The bottom line is this say IRS officials. No matter who prepares your tax return, the accuracy of the return is ultimately the your responsibility. The Internal Revenue Service protects taxpayers by "assessing significant civil penalties against dishonest return preparers and working with the Justice Department to end scams and prosecute the criminals behind them."
So IRS officials say besides being accurate on the return it's vitally important to hire someone you know is qualified to prepare your return because remember if there's a mistake you'll have no one to blame but yourself.
"Well-intentioned taxpayers can be deceived by preparers who don’t understand taxes or who mislead people into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to claim. Fraudulent preparers often do this to increase their fee. Here are more tips to consider:
- Look for a preparer who is available year-round. In the event questions come up about a tax return, taxpayers may need to contact the preparer after the filing season is over.
- Inquire whether the tax return preparer has a professional credential (enrolled agent, certified public accountant or attorney), belongs to a professional organization or attends continuing education classes. Because tax law can be complex, competent tax return preparers remain up to date on tax topics. The IRS website has more information regarding national tax professional organizations.
- Check the preparer’s history. Check the Better Business Bureau website for information about the preparer. Look for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, go to IRS.gov and search for “verify enrolled agent status” or check the Directory.
- Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund or boast bigger refunds than their competition. Don’t give tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information to a preparer if merely inquiring about their services and fees. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous preparers have used this information to improperly file returns without the taxpayer’s permission.
- Provide records and receipts. Good preparers ask to see these documents. They’ll also ask questions to determine the client’s total income, deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not hire a preparer who e-files a tax return using a pay stub instead of a Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.
- Understand representation rules. Attorneys, CPAs and enrolled agents can represent any client before the IRS in any situation. Annual Filing Season Program participants may represent taxpayers in limited situations if they prepared and signed the tax return.
- Never sign a blank or incomplete return.
- Review the tax return before signing. Be sure to ask questions if something is not clear or appears inaccurate. Any refund should go directly to the taxpayer – not into the preparer’s bank account. Reviewing the routing and bank account number on the completed return is always a good idea.
- Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a return preparer is suspected of filing or changing the return without the client’s consent, also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. Forms are available on IRS.gov.
- IRS.gov/chooseataxpro has additional information to help taxpayers including tips on choosing a preparer, the differences in credentials and qualifications, as well as how to submit a complaint regarding an unscrupulous tax return preparer."