Back in January, we talked about things to consider when choosing a tax preparer. While the majority of tax preparers are ethical and trustworthy, there are some who are not.

The IRS continues to warn taxpayers to watch out for unscrupulous tax preparers who may not only prepare fraudulent tax returns, but also use your information to steal your identity.

Here are some red flags that may signal you need to find a different tax preparer:

  • The preparer promises guaranteed or inflated refunds.
  • The preparer’s fee is based on the size of your refund.
  • The preparer wants you to sign a blank tax return or sign the e-file authorization form (Form 8879) before you have reviewed the tax return or maybe even before it is prepared.
  • The preparer asks you strange questions that don’t have anything to do with your tax return, such as:
    • Full names of relatives that aren’t on your tax return.
    • The Social Security numbers of deceased relatives.
  • The preparer doesn’t have a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) issued by the IRS.
  • The preparer refuses to sign your tax return, saying it isn’t necessary.
  • The preparer won’t let you look at your return before it is submitted or won’t give you a copy of your return.
  • The preparer can’t answer the question, “How will you protect my information?”
  • The preparer wants your refund sent to his bank account so he can deduct his fee and send you the remainder.
  • The preparer can’t or won’t answer the question, “What tax training or workshops have you taken?”

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Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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