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Beware of ghosts this tax season!

It’s not Halloween but there are ghosts everywhere! Yes, you read that right: ghosts. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has warned taxpayers of “ghost preparers”.

A person must have a valid 2019 Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) if they are being financially compensated to prepare or assist in preparing a federal tax return. Ghost preparers will prepare the federal tax return and (purposely) fail to include their signature. Meanwhile, they send the taxpayer off with their tax return, having them sign and mail it to the IRS.

E-filers can also be subjected to ghost preparers; these tricksters will prepare taxes but will not digitally sign as the paid preparer. Sound fishy? That’s because it is and it’s against the law.

Ghost preparers are trying to make quick money by scamming hardworking, honest people. They will charge clients based on the size of their refund, make false promises of big refunds (currently, the average size of refunds is down 8%), and require cash payments for their services; don’t expect a receipt! Ghost preparers may even go as far as routing your refund into their bank accounts.

Don’t be a victim; stay vigilant. If you suspect suspicious activity, submit the following forms to the IRS:

  • Form 14157 – Complaint: Tax Return Preparer (for abusive tax preparers)
  • Form 14157-A – Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit (if you feel a tax preparer filed or changed your tax return without consent)

If you have questions or concerns about your taxes, please call Patrick & Raines CPAs. With five CPAs and an Enrolled Agent on staff you can be sure we have the knowledge and training to prepare your return correctly. Plus, you know we’ll be around to explain your return to the IRS if there are questions. Contact us at 904.396.5400 | 

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