ADOR: Choose your tax preparer with caution

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

As the tax filing deadline approaches, the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) encourages last minute filers who need assistance in preparing their annual returns to choose a tax preparer with care and caution.

“While most tax preparers are diligent at their craft and provide honest, excellent service to their clients, there are, unfortunately, a few who resort to tax scams, including excess deductions and underreporting income. The department advises taxpayers to choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer, especially during the last minute rush to meet the April 15 filing deadline date,” cautioned State Deputy Commissioner of Revenue Michael E. Mason, who serves as ADOR’s disclosure officer.

Dishonest tax return preparers can cause trouble for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. Such preparers derive financial gain by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds, charging inflated fees for return preparation services, and attracting new clients by promising refunds that are too good to be true.

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“Taxpayers should be wary of preparers advocating deductions that are more than you can document,” explained Mason. “The department’s new computer system can track and identify patterns of irregularities used by a particular tax preparer, and the department will pursue criminal sanctions against these unscrupulous tax preparers. “

“Tax schemes are illegal and can lead to imprisonment and fines for both scam artists and taxpayers. No matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for its accuracy and the information shown on the return. Taxpayers pulled into these schemes must repay unpaid taxes, plus interest and penalties,” said Mason.