Another one of the IRS Dirty Dozen is Preparer Fraud. The vast majority of tax preparers are honest. Sadly there are some preparers that take advantage of unsuspecting taxpayers. About 60 percent of taxpayers use professional tax preparers, so the opportunity for fraud is large. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says,
Choose your tax return preparer carefully because you entrust them with your private financial information that needs to be protected. Most preparers provide high-quality service but we run across cases each year where unscrupulous preparers steal from their clients and misfile their taxes.
One way to protect yourself is to check out your preparer. The IRS maintains a directory of preparers that are registered with the IRS. This includes:
- Enrolled Agents
- Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents
- Enrolled Actuaries
- Annual Filing Season Program participants
You can also ask your preparer if he or she has a professional certification such as enrolled agent (EA), certified public account (CPA), or attorney. Preparers registered with the IRS also have a PTIN which is a registration number.
A few things that you can do to protect yourself include reviewing your return before it is filed. You should also never sign a blank return. If you are the victim of an unscrupulous preparer, you should report him or her to the IRS.
Check out the IRS’ press release for more details about this Dirty Dozen Scam.