Tax return preparer fraud usually involves the preparation and filing of false income tax forms by professional preparers who either claim inflated expenses, credits that are not allowed, or excessive exemptions on returns that are prepared for their clients. This is according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who have enacted a program called the IRS return preparer program with which they forward these types of cases to the justice bureau for possible prosecution.
Regardless of who fills out your taxes, everyone must remember that they alone are responsible for any moneys owed or errors made on their income tax forms and documents. So, for this reason it is very important to understand your return regardless who fills it out and files it.
There are some steps to follow to make sure your return is completed correctly and completely. Following these steps is only a guide as I am sure there are others. More information can be found at the Internal Revenue website located at http://www.irs.gov and one could also check with their state income tax officials who will gladly help.
1. Make sure you have kept accurate records and receipts. It is not wise to give anyone your receipts. Total your receipts and take the totals to have your return prepared. If you are unsure about where a total should be placed, then list it separately and ask. When you get your completed form, make sure the totals match what you have provided.
2. Use a reputable tax preparer. Find someone who can provide references and credentials. Are they listed with the Better Business Bureau? Avoid so called fly by nights. Especially if they “guarantee” a larger refund than you could get elsewhere. Try to pick a person or company that is going to be around for the long haul. What if you have questions next year? Will they be there?
3. Make sure you use someone who will affix their signature to your return. If they are unable to sign that their work is good then why would you? Remember when you sign your return you are attesting to the truth of the document(s).
4. Look at your return and check the entries. Do you have any questions? If so ask and get a response. Look at your deductions and income, does it match what your receipts total? If not you better find out why.
5. If your taxes vary greatly from prior years while your income and deductions have stayed close to the same you better be asking questions.
6. This is important. NEVER sign a form that is blank. Do not trust anyone with your signature on what could be a legal document. This is a good way to find trouble with big brother.
7. Always get a copy of your return for your own records. Keep copies of all information you provided the tax preparer and keep them filed neatly and stored safely. You will be responsible for any taxes and penalties you owe; but, you must be able to document that someone else did your return so the tax body can investigate. This could also help in the event of an audit or prosecution.
Taking care of your documents and proper calculations are key to filing a tax return correctly. Remember the fine for income tax evasion in the United States is up to $250,000, and five years imprisonment.