Choose a Tax Preparer Carefully This Tax Season
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