The IRS has underscored the vital importance of selecting a tax professional carefully to safeguard personal and financial information. Taxpayers bear legal responsibility for their income tax return accuracy, regardless of the preparer. The IRS has provided a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications and a dedicated page to guide individuals in Choosing a Tax Professional including selecting someone affiliated with a recognized national tax association. Also, the IRS has warned against unscrupulous tax return preparers, highlighting red flags such as the absence of a signature on the tax return. The IRS has advised taxpayers to avoid such unethical practices and select a tax professional with a valid Preparer Tax Identification Numberfor added security.

The IRS has requested taxpayers to:

  • seek a preparer available year-round;
  • review the preparer’s history;
  • inquire about service fees, avoiding those tied to a percentage of the refund or suggesting direct deposit into their accounts;
  • choose an authorized IRS e-file provider;
  • provide records and receipts, good preparers ask to see these documents and do not hire a preparer e-filing using a pay stub instead of a Form W-2;
  • understand the preparer’s credentials and qualifications;
  • never sign a blank or incomplete return; and
  • thoroughly review the tax return before signing it.

Finally, taxpayers are expected to report preparer misconduct to the IRS by utilizing Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. In cases where taxpayers suspect a preparer filed or altered their tax return without consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.