Tax season is now in full swing and there are advertisements all over tv, the internet, Instagram, all with different products and services that offer to help you maximize your tax refund this tax season.
While most tax return preparers are honest and professional, there are some that offer to prepare returns with false information in order to increase a refund or decrease the amounts owed. This often leaves the taxpayer exposed to additional taxes, penalties and fines when the IRS figures out that information in the returns is not correct.
Please remember that you are always responsible for the information on your tax return even if someone else signs it along with you. Here are a few tips to make sure you do not have any issues this tax season:
- Check the potential tax preparer’s professional credentials. Only Enrolled Agents, CPAs and Attorneys are authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS in all tax matters
- Stay away from tax preparers that claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
- Avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund that you are owed – this is an illegal practice.
- Run quickly from a tax preparer that offers to deposit all or part of your refund into their financial accounts and pay you after they receive your refund – there are options for people that do not have bank accounts – and you will never see your money…
- NEVER sign a blank tax return form
- It is best to avoid the fast tax refund advance
loans. These loans often cost hundreds of dollars and the IRS offers direct deposit for free in less than two weeks from the time of e-filing of the tax return.
- Be sure that the tax preparer’s Name, PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number), and signature are on your return BEFORE signing your return. If the preparer’s information is missing or you see the words “Self-Prepared” where their information should be, do not sign this return.
- Do not meet someone on the side of the road or at some random, public place and hand them your tax documents unless you have properly researched them. I have had clients lose their tax info this way and the person was nowhere to be found.
- This is an important one…READ YOUR TAX RETURN AND REVIEW THE NUMBERS ON IT BEFORE SIGNING!! – Shady tax preparers can add phony businesses, made up dependents and false deductions to make the tax return results better…but as a reminder – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT IS ON YOUR TAX RETURN…so if you do not read the return and there is false information on there and you sign it, you have now committed tax fraud and may owe the IRS penalties and back interest.
The moral of the story here is to use common sense when hiring a professional to handle filing your taxes. It is also wise to do some research on anyone that you hire to prepare documents with such sensitive information.
To assist you with getting ready to file your taxes below is a quick list of the most popular items needed to prepare the majority of tax returns.
Individual Tax Item Checklist
- W2 forms from employer(s)
- 1099 forms from contract positions
- Mortgage Interest Statements
- Property Tax Bills
- Interest income
- Tuition and fees for higher education
- Student Loan Interest Statements
- Medical and Dental Expenses
- Cash Contributions
- Non-Cash Donations
- Childcare Expenses
- Self-employed business expenses
- K1s from any businesses owned
Important Upcoming Tax Deadlines
March 16, 2020 – S-Corporation Tax Returns and Partnership Tax Returns Due
April 15, 2020 – C-Corporation Tax Returns Due
April 15, 2020 – Individual Tax Filing Deadline