Check a tax preparer's credentials: By law, all tax preparers that charge a fee for services must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS. Furthermore, in certain states like NY, preparers must also have a state registration number and/or take annual continuing education credits. Always ask your tax preparer if they have all the necessary registration(s) & CE requirements. You can verify active PTINs at irs.gov.
Preparers who refuse to sign their tax returns: If a preparer won't sign your return, it's a major red flag. A preparer who does not sign has no responsibility for a tax return and is more likely to engage in bad behavior. This leaves the taxpayer to deal with any problems that may arise from their “self-prepared” tax return. Only use a tax professional that signs their tax returns. Also, be sure to obtain a signed copy of your return, and be sure to obtain proof all returns were submitted.
Beware of false deductions: If you heard of that “tax guy” that is getting taxpayers extra large refunds that are too good to be true…it usually is. Avoid any preparer who advises you to take deductions you are not entitled to—no matter how tempting that larger refund is. Always ask for (and receive) an explanation for differences in your return.
Requesting tax records and receipts: Most tax returns can not be filed without documentation. A legitimate tax preparer will want to review your wage documents, deductions, receipts & other financial documents to ensure an accurate return. Avoid “creative accountants” who tell you they don’t need to see any of your documents.
Never sign a blank tax return: Signing a blank or incomplete tax return is like signing a blank check—don’t do it. Always Insist on reviewing and signing a completed return and e-file authorization before it is filed. A legitimate tax preparer will answer all questions to your satisfaction before e-filing your tax return.
Steer clear of guarantees & fees based on your refund: Be wary of preparers who promise a particular refund amount without knowing your tax situation. They may be engaging in fraudulent activity. Also, it is against the law to charge a fee based on your refund amount. Always inquire about how a tax preparer or tax preparation firm bills.
Check your bank account information: If you are getting your refund deposited into your bank account, make sure your account information is correct and one you control. It is illegal for a tax preparer to deposit a taxpayer's refund into their own account or any other account outside of the taxpayer’s control. Avoid & report these tax preparers—they may be trying to steal your refund.
By following these tips, you can limit the risk of shady tax preparers and ensure that your tax return will be prepared accurately. At R&G Brenner Tax + Accounting, all our CPAs, EAs & other tax professionals are registered with the IRS and in good standing. We will always ask you to securely share your tax documents with us, we have transparent & itemized billing and we will only file complete tax returns after all client questions are answered and all necessary authorizations are received. R&G Brenner clients are given updates about the status of their tax returns from the moment their documents are uploaded into their free client account until the moment their return is accepted by the taxing authority. For further assistance or to get started with an experienced tax professional, contact us at email@example.com or by clicking here.