Choosing a Tax Return
Most tax return preparers are professional,
honest and provide excellent service to their clients. But if you pay
someone to prepare your tax return, choose that preparer wisely, advises
the IRS. Taxpayers are legally responsible for what’s on their
returns—even if prepared by someone else.
Here are a few points to
keep in mind when someone else prepares your tax return:
A paid preparer is required
by law to sign the return, fill in the preparer areas on the form
and give you a copy of the return.
Before signing, review the complete
return to ensure the tax information and your name, address and social
security numbers(s) are correct and that you understand the entries
and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return.
Never sign a blank return and
never sign in pencil.
If you have provided specific
authorization in a power of attorney filed with the IRS, you may have
copies of notices or refund checks mailed to your preparer or representative;
but you are the only one that can sign and cash your refund check.
A Third Party Designee Check
Box on Form 1040 allows you to designate a representative to speak
to the IRS concerning how your return was prepared or about payment
and refund issues and mathematical errors.
If you choose to use a paid tax
preparer, it is important that you find a qualified tax professional.
Unqualified tax preparers may overlook legitimate deductions or credits
which could result in you paying more tax than you should. They may
also make costly mistakes that could end with you owing additional tax,
along with penalties and interest.
Following are some suggestions
to consider when hiring a tax professional:
Avoid preparers who claim they
can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, or who guarantee results
or base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
Choose a preparer you will be
able to contact after the return is filed and one that will be responsive
to your needs. Ask questions and get references from clients who have
used the tax professional before. Were they satisfied with the service
Check to see if the preparer
has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the
state’s board of accountancy for CPAs, the state’s bar
association for attorneys or the state’s Attorney General’s
Determine if the preparer’s
credentials meet your needs. Is he or she an Enrolled Agent, Certified
Public Accountant (CPA) or Tax Attorney? Only attorneys, CPAs and
enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters
including audits, collection actions and appeals. Other return preparers
may represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return that they
signed as a preparer.
Find out if the preparer belongs
to a professional organization that provides or requires its members
to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to
a code of ethics.
Unfortunately, unscrupulous tax
return preparers do exist and can cause considerable financial and legal
problems for their clients. Examples of improper actions by unscrupulous
preparers include the preparation and filing of false income tax returns
that claim inflated personal or business expenses, false deductions, unallowable
credits or excessive exemptions.
You can check IRS.gov
for information regarding tax schemes and scams—including
abusive tax shelters. Tax evasion is both risky and a crime punishable
by up to five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Remember—no
matter who prepares your tax return, you are legally responsible for
the information on it.
If you have
questions or need assistance with filing an extension, call us
at (703) 370-0019 or email at email@example.com.
We are here to help.
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Kahn, CPA PLLC
3343 Duke Street