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IRS Urges Caution when Choosing a Tax Preparer

Taxpayers are on the hook for falsehoods on their returns no matter who prepares them.

Representatives from the Internal Revenue’s Springfield Office have shared recommendations for New Jersey Taxpayers.

In a press release, IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Newark Field Office, JoAnn Zuniga advised caution for people selecting a return preparer, noting that the taxpayers are accountable for falsehoods on their tax forms regardless of who prepared it.

 “Knowingly falsifying documents filed with the IRS is a crime,” Zuniga said in the release.  Dishonest return preparers use a variety of methods to cheat the government.  It is your responsibility to know what is on your income tax return.  You are ultimately responsible for what gets filed with the IRS.”
 
Zuniga said fraudulent preparers claim inflated personal or business expenses, false deductions, unallowable credits or excessive exemptions on returns prepared for their clients. When the IRS detects a fraudulent return, the taxpayer—not the return preparer—must pay the additional taxes and interest and may be subject to penalties.
 
Despite the warning, Zuniga advises taxpayers to avoid panicking when deciding who to prepare your returns.  Most return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent service to their clients. Zuniga offers the following 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 refund.
  • Never sign a blank tax return.
  • Use a reputable tax professional who signs their tax return and provides you with a copy.  In addition, make sure the preparer includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) as required by law. 
  • Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed.
  • Check the preparer’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 friends and family members whether they know anyone who has used the tax professional and whether they were satisfied with the service they received.

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