Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season

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Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season
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Source: Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) reminded taxpayers to file accurate tax returns and choose a tax preparer wisely. The nation’s tax season [started] on Friday, February 12, 2021 when the agency begins accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns.

U.S. persons are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources. Most taxpayers meet this obligation by reporting all taxable income and paying taxes according to the law. However, those who willfully hide income should know that the IRS works across its divisions to ensure the highest possible tax compliance. Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines and jail time.

“The IRS has zero tolerance for taxpayers who willfully fail to pay their fair share,” said IRS-CI L.A. Field Office Special Agent in Charge Ryan Korner. “While most taxpayers diligently meet their responsibilities to report income and pay taxes, those who knowingly evade these responsibilities are criminals in the eyes of law. IRS-CI will work tirelessly with our civil counterparts to enforce the tax laws, hold accountable those who thwart them, and keep the Nation’s Tax System fair for everyone.” 

Tax return preparers are vital to the U.S. tax system. As of tax year 2018, 55 percent of taxpayers used a paid preparer. Although most preparers provide honest and professional services, there is a small number of dishonest preparers who set up shop during filing season to steal money, personal and financial information from clients. Taxpayers can avoid falling victim to unscrupulous preparers by following important steps.

Tips when choosing a tax preparer:

  • Look for a preparer who is available year-round in case questions arise after the filing season.

  • Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is required for paid preparers.

  • Inquire about the preparer’s credentials and check their qualifications

  • Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund or claim to offer a bigger refund than their competition.

  • Never sign a blank or incomplete return and review it before signing. Refunds should go directly to the taxpayer, not the preparer.

For more tips on choosing a tax professional or to file a complaint against one, visit IRS.gov. Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business, may report it to the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral

The IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office is committed to protecting California taxpayers from others cheating the U.S. tax system. Here are some examples of some of the most egregious criminals that have been recently investigated and brought to justice:

  • DOJ, CDC Feb. 3, 2020 release: Former Tax Lawyer Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Evading Back Taxes He Owed to Internal Revenue Service
  • DOJ, CDC Oct. 10, 2019 release: High Desert Tax Preparer Sentenced to More Than 2 Years in Prison for Tax Scheme that Collected over $1 Million in Fraudulent Refunds
  • DOJ, CDC Jan. 29, 2019 release: Hemet Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Identity Theft Scheme that Claimed More than $800,000 in False Tax Refunds
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edney Feb 28, 2021 01:15 PM
Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season

I read Trump's tax people sent over a million pages. If I were him I would have objected for two reasons.
1. I am going to get a huge bill from my tax people just to produce the documents.
2. I am going to have to pay my tax people to review a million documents and defend every word, every decimal point.
3. In over a million pages there will inevitably be errors
4. I pay tax attorneys to to avoid taxes legally, the cleverer they are, the worse the DA can make me look. The leaking of documents will be to tarnish reputation.

Chip of SB Feb 28, 2021 10:32 AM
Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season

Taxes are very strange. The government requires us to fully understand tax law and makes it our legal responsibility to evaluate what we owe and pay it. Then the government makes a tax code that is so complex no human can fully understand it. For example, even the secretary of the treasury Timothy Geithner was unable to figure out the rules to pay his taxes correctly. Then to top it all off the government threatens us with harsh penalties if we fail to correctly assess and pay your tax liabilities, which is not humanly possible given the complexity of the tax code. Given the circumstances, it's rather humorous they would caution us to be careful who we hire to try to figure it all out for us.

edney Feb 28, 2021 12:57 PM
Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season

I agree that the tax codes are too complicated. Any government program that requires a large support industry because of the complications needs to be streamlined.
Timothy Geithner's problem was the tax code was his own fault. When he worked for the IMF, social security was not withheld and he had signed a document that told him that the IMF does not withhold SS taxes and that American citizens were liable for the 6.2% employer contribution.
Blaming TurboTax was lame. He should have immediately blamed himself for not reading the documents he had signed and then noted that taxes were not only too complicated for humans, but for computers as well.
The IRS and CA FTB make us do the work of collecting taxes and navigating their byzantine rules for free. Then if we make a mistake, they hit us with fines and penalties. If a private business did this, they would be labeled and investigated as a predatory company.

buckwheat Feb 28, 2021 05:22 PM
Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season

It was reported several years ago that for every dollar paid to employ an IRS agent, the treasury collected $100. Therefore, it made no sense to cut back the number of IRS agents yet that is exactly what was done!

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