IR-2018-45, March 8, 2018
WASHINGTON — With more than half of the nation’s taxpayers relying on someone else to prepare their tax return, the Internal Revenue Service reminded consumers to be on the lookout for unscrupulous tax preparers looking to make a fast buck from honest people seeking tax assistance.
Again, this year, the IRS included tax return preparer fraud on its “Dirty Dozen” watch list of common tax scams. The agency wants taxpayers to be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers and help protect their sensitive financial and tax data.
The majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who operate each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt honest taxpayers. That’s why unscrupulous preparers who prey on unsuspecting taxpayers with outlandish promises of overly large refunds make the “Dirty Dozen” list.
Tax return preparers are a vital part of the U.S. tax system. About 56 percent of taxpayers use tax professionals to prepare their returns.
Selecting the right tax professional is critically important because taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what they submit on their tax return.
The IRS is also working to protect taxpayers from shady return preparers. The pursuit of illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest as well as possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.
It is important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare a tax return. Well-intentioned taxpayers can be misled by preparers who don’t understand taxes or who mislead people into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to claim. Scam preparers may take this step in order to increase their fee. Every year, these types of tax preparers encounter everything from stiff penalties to jail time for defrauding their clients.
Here are a few tips for taxpayers to consider to help avoid a fraudster when choosing a tax preparer:
To find other tips about choosing a preparer, understanding the differences in credentials and qualifications, researching the IRS preparer directory and learning how to submit a complaint regarding a tax return preparer, visit www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.
Remember: Taxpayers are legally responsible for what is on their tax return even if someone else prepares it.
This article was published at IRS.gov.