Ghost Preparers are on the loose!


ABG knows that when it comes to income tax preparation you have many choices. Unfortunately, some of those choices are not the best for hard working tax payers.

The IRS today released a warning to taxpayers to be aware of unscrupulous prepares who do not abide by IRS mandated regulations.

By law every preparer who charges a fee to prepare federal income taxes must provide their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and sign for the return they have prepared.

Ghost Tax preparer as the IRS call them on their recent news release are un-registered income tax preparers who do not sign and identify themselves as the tax preparer of record for their client returns.

Some common practices to be aware of ghost tax preparers are:

  • They print the return and have the taxpayer mail the return. The return will have “Self Prepared” on the signature field of the professional taxpayer portion of the return. A professional tax preparer who is registered with the IRS and has a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number will sign the return and place their contact information. Recent regulation also requires preparer to submit income taxes using the IRS E-File system.
  • Ghost preparers love cash and will rarely accept other forms of payment. They seldom provide receipts or proof of payment.
  • Ghost Tax Preparers don’t assume any liability for the tax return they are preparing so they will put erroneous information to inflate their client’s refund. They will increase income, inflate expenses and put miscellaneous expenses. Clients should be aware of any drastic changes in their refunds amount without any major life changes.
  • In some cases, the worst of them will direct their client’s refunds into their own accounts. This practice is above everything devasting for the client as not only do they lose their refund amount but have erroneous information on their federal income taxes, and their sensitive information and that of their family is in the possession of unscrupulous individuals.

The IRS and ABG recommends tax payers to do their due diligence when selecting an income tax preparer.

Their are tools on the IRS website that can help individuals when choosing a tax preparer. The “Choosing a Tax Professional” page on the IRS website has an abundance of information to help individuals pick a professional. The IRS also has a directory of Federal Tax Return Preparer with credential and select qualification that are near them.

Please take the time to read the press release from the official IRS website by clicking the link below: