Taxpayers need to be careful this tax season, according to the Arizona Department of Revenue. There has been an increase in the amount of fraudulent tax preparers.
“The majority of tax preparers are professional and qualified, but there have been cases, unfortunately, where some have attempted to submit fraudulent returns or promise larger tax refunds by making unsubstantiated changes to the tax returns,” says Ed Greenberg, the ADOR communications director.
Greenberg recommends taxpayers research tax professionals before they use their services. Taxpayers should ask the preparer for their credentials and how long they’ve worked as a preparer. He also stated that e-filing is usually a safer option.
“Those are some of the questions we recommend that people may want to ask if they’re hiring a tax preparer for the first time and to try and assist them in gauging if that tax preparer is qualified for their situation.”
The questions include:
- Does the preparer belong to any professional organizations?
- Is the preparer available year-round?
- Will the preparer explain how the return was prepared in the event of an audit?
- Did the preparer explain charges for services in advance?
- Does the preparer provide copies of complete returns to clients?
There were 2,000 fraudulent returns last year, and two people were indicted last month for filing fraudulent returns.
If you are the victim of a dishonest preparer, you’ll still be on the hook for amending your return, and you’ll have to pay any fees associated with the return.
“We want to work with our taxpayers to ensure they’re asking questions because … they are ultimately responsible for their tax return,” says Greenberg.