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IRS, National Tax Groups Offer Help Selecting a Tax Preparer; Tips, New Web Page Unveiled

Posted by: Zaher Fallahi
Posted On: Dec 24, 2014

WASHINGTON — With the filing season approaching, the Internal Revenue Service joined with national tax organizations to provide people with new options to get information and tips on selecting tax professionals and avoiding unscrupulous preparers.

The effort includes new information available at   IRS.gov/chooseataxpro,  including a list of consumer tips for selecting a tax professional. There will also be a  new gateway page with links to national non-profit tax professional groups, which can help provide additional information for taxpayers seeking the right type of qualified help.

“The tax return represents one of the biggest financial transactions of the year for many Americans, whether they are getting a refund or paying a tax bill,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Filling out tax returns accurately is critically important. Between tax law changes and tax scams circulating, it’s more important than ever for people who need professional assistance to select wisely and carefully.”

Koskinen was joined at a Washington press conference Thursday with members of several national tax professional organizations that represent hundreds of thousands of tax professionals across the nation.

More than 140 million tax returns were filed last year, and more than half of with them were prepared with the help of a paid return preparer.

For the upcoming filing season, some taxpayers may want to get help with the new provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and tax professionals provide one of several options available. The vast majority of people will only have to check a box on their federal income tax return to indicate they had health coverage, but others have Marketplace coverage with tax credits, have exemptions or need them, or may have to make a payment because they could afford to buy health insurance but chose not to. Tax professionals will be able to help guide taxpayers through what they need to do in these circumstances. Commercial software programs will be able to help, too.

There are some basic tips taxpayers can keep in mind when selecting a tax professional. These include:

1). Select an ethical preparer. Taxpayers entrust some of their most vital personal data with the person preparing their tax return, including income, investments and Social Security numbers.

2). Make sure the preparer signs the return and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid prepares are required to have a valid PTIN.

3). Review your tax return and ask questions before signing. The taxpayer is ultimately legally responsible for what’s on their tax return, regardless of whether someone else prepared it.

4). Never sign a blank tax return. This is a clear red flag when a taxpayer is asked to sign a blank tax return. The preparer can put anything they want on the return – even their own bank account for the tax refund

Zaher Fallahi, is a California Tax Attorney and a CPA, practices as Los Angeles Tax Defense Attorney and Orange Tax Defense Attorney, and assists taxpayers including Americans Living Abroad and Non-Resident Aliens subject to the US tax law, in resolving their tax problems regarding their Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Foreign Trust.  Telephones: (310) 719-1040 (Los Angeles), (714) 546-4272 (Orange County), e-mail taxattorney@zfcpa.com