Dropdown button for navigation mobile view

Take care when choosing a tax return professional

Posted by: Zaher Fallahi
Posted On: Feb 05, 2024

Source: IRS Issue Number:    IR-2024-31

WASHINGTON –The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that carefully choosing a tax professional to prepare a tax return is vital to ensuring that their personal and financial information is safe and secure and treated with care.

Most tax return preparers provide honest, high-quality service. But some may cause harm through fraud, identity theft and other scams.

It is important for taxpayers to understand who they’re choosing and what important questions to ask when hiring an individual or firm to prepare their tax return.

Another reason to choose a tax preparer carefully is because taxpayers are ultimately legally responsible for all the information on their income tax return, regardless of who prepares it.

The IRS has put together a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications to help individuals find a tax pro that meets high standards. There is also a special page on IRS.gov for Choosing a Tax Professional that can help guide taxpayers in making a good choice, including selecting someone affiliated with a recognized national tax association. There are different kinds of tax professionals, and a taxpayer’s needs will help determine which kind of preparer is best for them.

Red flags to watch out for
There are warning signs that can help steer taxpayers away from unscrupulous tax return preparers. For instance, not signing a tax return is a red flag that a paid preparer is likely not to be trusted. They may be looking to make a quick profit by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund.

These unscrupulous “ghost” preparers often print the return and have the taxpayer sign and mail it to the IRS. For electronically filed returns, a ghost preparer will prepare the tax return but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer. Taxpayers should avoid this type of unethical preparer.

In addition, taxpayers should always choose a tax professional with a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid PTIN. Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on any tax return they prepare.

Other tips
Here are a few other tips to consider when choosing a tax return preparer:

Taxpayers can report preparer misconduct to the IRS using Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax return preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

For more information

End of IRS Material.

Zaher Fallahi, Tax Attorney, CPA, assists taxpayers nationwide with their Tax Preparation, Cryptocurrency tax, Gift Tax, Foreign Gifts, IRS Audits, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) issues, FBAR, Undisclosed Foreign Bank Accounts, Streamlined Procedures, and other International Tax Matters. Tel.: (310) 719-1040, (714) 546-4272 and (877) 687-7558 toll free nationwide. Websites: zflegal.com and zfcpa.com E-mail taxattorney@zfcpa.com