Ten Things For Taxpayers For Taxpayers To Think About When Choosing A Tax Preparer

It’s the time of the year when many taxpayers choose a tax preparer to help file a tax return. These taxpayers should choose their tax return preparer wisely.  This is because taxpayers are responsible for all the information on their income tax return. That’s true no matter who prepares the return.

Here are ten tips for taxpayers to remember when selecting a preparer:

  • Check the Preparer’s Qualifications. People can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. This tool helps taxpayers find a tax return preparer with specific qualifications. The directory is a searchable and sortable listing of preparers.
  • Check the Preparer’s History. Taxpayers can ask the Better Business Bureau about the preparer. Check for disciplinary actions and the license status for credentialed preparers. For CPAs, people can check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, they can check with the State Bar Association. For Enrolled Agents, taxpayers can go to the verify enrolled agent status page on IRS.gov or check the directory.
  • Ask about Service Fees. People should avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of the refund or who boast bigger refunds than their competition. When asking about a preparer’s services and fees, don’t give them tax documents, Social Security numbers or other information.
  • Ask to e-file. Taxpayers should make sure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The quickest way for taxpayers to get their refund is to electronically file their federal tax return and use direct deposit.
  • Make Sure the Preparer is Available. Taxpayers may want to contact their preparer after this year’s April 15 due date. People should avoid fly-by-night preparers.
  • Provide Records and Receipts. Good preparers will ask to see a taxpayer’s records and receipts. They’ll ask questions to figure things like the total income, tax deductions and credits.
  • Never Sign a Blank Return. Taxpayers should not use a tax preparer who asks them to sign a blank tax form.
  • Review Before Signing. Before signing a tax return, the taxpayer should review it. They should ask questions if something is not clear. Taxpayers should feel comfortable with the accuracy of their return before they sign it. They should also make sure that their refund goes directly to them – not to the preparer’s bank account. The taxpayer should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return. The preparer should give you a copy of the completed tax return.
  • Ensure the Preparer Signs and Includes Their PTIN. All paid tax preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. By law, paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN.
  • Report Abusive Tax Preparers to the IRS. Most tax return preparers are honest and provide great service to their clients. However, some preparers are dishonest. People can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their return without the taxpayer’s consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

IRS Continues Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) Program in Florida

The IRS is again offering the Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) to all taxpayers who filed their federal tax returns last year as residents of Florida, Georgia or the District of Columbia. These residents don’t need to be identity theft victims to participate. This ongoing pilot program helps the IRS evaluate taxpayer demand for the IP PIN and assess their ability to issue the PIN to a larger number of taxpayers. The three locations covered by the pilot have the highest per-capita percentage of tax-related identity theft.

The IP PIN is a 6-digit number the IRS uses to confirm your identity when they receive a return with your name and Social Security number on it. This helps prevent identity thieves from obtaining a fraudulent refund using your SSN and avoid delays issuing any refund you may be due.

If you’re eligible and choose to get an IP PIN, visit Get An IP PIN. After you get an IP PIN,

  • you must use it on all future federal income tax forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1040 PR/SS
  • the IRS will mail you a new IP PIN each year in late December or early January.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and preventing tax refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the IRS’s biggest challenges. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving tax-related identity theft cases as soon as possible.

If you have any questions on this or other tax related matters, call us at 813-514-2920.

We Have Two Extra Days To File Your 2017 Income Tax Return

The filing deadline to submit 2017 tax returns is Tuesday, April 17, 2018, rather than the traditional April 15 date. In 2018, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and this would usually move the filing deadline to the following Monday – April 16. However, Emancipation Day – a legal holiday in the District of Columbia – will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to Tuesday, April 17, 2017. Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

The IRS also has been working with the tax industry and state revenue departments as part of the Security Summit initiative to continue strengthening processing systems to protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. The IRS and Summit partners continued to improve these safeguards to further protect taxpayers filing in 2018.

If you have questions on this or any other tax matter, call us at 813-514-2920.

E-File Your Tax Return And Choose Direct Deposit

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS expects more than four out of five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax software.

The IRS still anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, but there are some important factors to keep in mind for taxpayers.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds on tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC.

The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if those taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return. This additional period is due to several factors, including banking and financial systems needing time to process deposits.

After refunds leave the IRS, it takes additional time for them to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts and products. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving Presidents’ Day may affect their refund timing.

If you have questions on this or any other tax matter, call us at 813-514-2920.