Return preparer fraud generally involves the preparation and filing of false income tax returns by preparers who claim inflated personal or business expenses, false deductions, unallowable credits or excessive exemptions on returns prepared for their clients. Preparers may manipulate income figures to fraudulently obtain tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
In some situations, the client, or taxpayer, may not have knowledge of the false expenses, deductions, exemptions and/or credits shown on his or her tax return.
However, when the IRS detects the false return, the taxpayer — not the return preparer — must pay the additional taxes and interest and may be subject to penalties.
The IRS Return Preparer Program focuses on enhancing compliance in the return-preparer community by investigating and referring criminal activity by return preparers to the Department of Justice for prosecution and/or asserting appropriate civil penalties against unscrupulous return preparers.
While most preparers provide excellent service to their clients, the IRS urges taxpayers to be very careful when choosing a tax preparer. Taxpayers should be as careful as they would be in choosing a doctor or a lawyer. It is important to know that even if someone else prepares a tax return, it is the taxpayer who is ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return.
Helpful Hints When Choosing a Return Preparer
Be cautious of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
Use a reputable tax professional who signs your tax return and provides you with a copy for your records.
Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of your tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed.
Review your return before you sign it and ask questions on entries you don't understand.
No matter who prepares your tax return, you, the taxpayer, are ultimately responsible for all of the information on your tax return. Therefore, never sign a blank tax form.
Find out the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters including audits, collection and appeals. Other return preparers may only represent taxpayers for audits of returns they actually prepared.
Find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources and holds them to a code of ethics.
Ask questions. Do you know anyone who has used the tax professional? Were they satisfied with the service they received?
Reputable preparers will ask to see your receipts and will ask you multiple questions to determine your qualifications for expenses, deductions and other items. By doing so, they are trying to help you avoid penalties, interest or additional taxes that could result from an IRS examination.
Further, tax evasion is a risky crime, a felony, punishable by five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
If your in the need to talk with someone who can help yo with filing back tax returns or resolving your back taxes be sure to contact a reputable tax resolution firm.