HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - U.S Attorneys Mike Hurst and Chad Lamar of the Southern and Northern Districts of Mississippi are warning taxpayers to avoid unscrupulous tax return preparers as Tax Day approaches.
“Every year, some Mississippians are victimized by dishonest individuals looking to make a quick buck by defrauding our tax system. We are committed to bringing these underhanded return preparers to justice. If you suspect tax fraud, contact our offices or your local IRS office. By being vigilant and working together, we can hold these tax fraudsters and cheats accountable,” Hurst said in a Department of Justice news release.
Tax returns are due on April 15.
“I certainly echo the words of my colleague. We, as citizens of the United States, have a legal obligation to timely pay our federal and state taxes and to timely file our tax returns. Those who choose to evade those responsibilities, or take advantage of our citizens who are trying to comply with their legal tax filing obligations, will be met with severe penalties, including prosecution,” Lamar said.
Some preparers may prepare returns with false information to boost a refund, reduce their liability, or to increase business and preparation fees, according to the news release. Taxpayers can be held responsible for that false information.
The U.S. Attorneys gave the following tips to keep inmind when selecting a tax return preparer:
- Be wary of tax return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than others can.
- Avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of your refund into their financial accounts.
- Ensure you use a preparer with a preparer tax identification number (“PTIN”). Paid tax return preparers must have a PTIN to prepare all or substantially all of a tax return.
- Use a reputable tax professional, who enters their PTIN on your tax return, signs the tax return, and provides you a copy of the return (as required).
- Consider whether the individual or firm will be around for months or years after filing the return to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return.
- Never sign a blank tax form.
- Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collections, and appeals.