Be Careful When Selecting a Tax Preparer
This means finding someone with an established business and a good reputation, and knowing certain warning signs.
Don’t authorize the preparer to file your return until you’ve reviewed it and made sure all your information is correct. This means deductions, credits, personal details, and any direct deposit information. (You can authorize a return by signing the actual return or IRS Form 8879 authorizing the preparer to use your PIN to submit your tax return electronically.)
Never sign a blank tax form – sign only after all information has been entered and you’ve confirmed it is correct.
Never have your refund (or any portion of your refund) direct-deposited into an account under the preparer’s control. Although you can split your refund among up to three different accounts, a preparer is not authorized to have your refund deposited into an account under his or her control. (See IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases)
Always get a complete copy of your return for your records. Verify it includes the preparer’s name, signature, and preparer tax identification number. Paid return preparers must have a preparer tax identification number issued by the IRS. They must enter that number, along with their name and signature, on every return they prepare in exchange for payment, and must give you a copy of the return.
If you are a victim of Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct
The first indication you’ve been victimized by an unscrupulous preparer might be correspondence from the IRS. For example, an IRS notice may alert you there was a mistake on your return or that it’s being audited. Another way you might find out is if a transcript of your account doesn’t match the return you signed.
No matter how you find out you’re the victim of preparer fraud or misconduct, you need to take the following steps:
- Contact your local police department and file a report naming the preparer as a suspect.
- Fill out IRS Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. This form will outline the other documents you need to submit to the IRS, which include:
- IRS Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer
- A copy of the return provided to you by the preparer
- A signed copy of the return as you intended it to be filed
- Proof of the refund amount (if applicable)
- If your refund was direct deposited, a copy of your bank statement showing the deposit amount
- If your refund was mailed, a copy of the paper refund check
- Copies of any other documents you received from the preparer
- Additional information about the preparer, such as a copy of a business card, promotional flyer, or local business listing
- Copies of any other documents that support your claim, such as:
- a signed and dated statement providing an in-depth explanation of the misconduct
- A copy of the police report
The form has a long list of requested documents. If you don’t have all of them available, file your complaint with the information that you do have. In some cases, the IRS will consider the claim even without one or two requested document
Make sure you maintain copies of everything for your records.