How to Avoid Tax Return Preparer Fraud

It’s tax season – time to find a tax return preparer who can maximize your savings while minimizing your liability. Not all tax preparers are the same, and how much money they can save you isn’t the only factor that sets them apart.

In our latest blog post, we reviewed the IRS Phone Scams, part of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for the 2015 filing season. Another topic that made the “Dirty Dozen” list is Tax Return Preparer Fraud. Below are key points that you should be aware of when choosing a reputable accounting firm in Las Vegas:

Ask for a preparer tax identification number

People officially authorized to prepare taxes have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN), which you can verify with the IRS.

Only work with preparers who have professional certifications

While tax preparers technically aren’t required to have professional certifications, someone who has taken the time to achieve them is less likely to commit fraud. As such, it’s best to work with a certified public accountant or a member of a reputable professional organization.

Watch out for overly competitive offers

When a tax preparer “guarantees” that they can get you more money back than anybody else, wave the red flag. Fraudsters will use these tactics to lure people in.

Only allow refunds to go to your bank account

There is no reason that a tax refund should go to a preparer’s account. This is a common way to pilfer your entire return.

Don’t work with anyone over the phone

As we discussed previously, be wary about tax scams over the phone. Don’t work with anyone who tries to “prepare your tax return” over the phone. You want to be able to go to their office, review your receipts & documentation together, answer any questions they have and review your return before it’s filed with the IRS.

Never fill out a return with blank spaces

Unless a tax return specifically says that you should leave an area blank under certain circumstances, there is no reason to leave a space blank. Fraudulent tax preparers will often encourage people to leave spaces blank, suggesting that they will “take care of it,” but instead entering information that allows them access to your money.

There are many scams out there to steal both your identity and your tax return unfortunately. However, keeping yourself informed and asking questions when something doesn’t feel right can help you to avoid being taken advantage of. To learn more about how to protect yourself or your business during tax season, contact our office at 702-870-7999.