IRS Warns Victims of Ghost Tax Return Preparers

IRS Warning About Ghost Tax Return Preparers?

Today, as we are well into the 2019 tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service warned taxpayers to avoid unethical tax return preparers, known as ghost preparers.

What is a Ghost Tax Return Preparer?

IRS Warns Victims of Ghost Tax Preparers

Legally, a preparer who receives payment for preparing federal returns must have a valid 2019 Preparer Tax Identification Number, also known as a PTIN. This is true even if the tax preparer who assists in the preparation process. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN.

How do I Identify a Ghost Tax Return Preparer?

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However, ghost preparers don’t sign the tax return. Instead, they print the return and direct the you, the taxpayer to sign and mail the return to the IRS. I mean, it sounds logical, but it is dangerous because it puts all the liability on you. Your signature, your liability. You e-file your return, you say? These scam artists will e-file returns, they prepare however, they refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer. This is because the IRS will attempt to trace their IP address where the return was sent from. These scammers are not stupid, but they think you are. Prove them wrong.

How do I Identify a Ghost Preparer Scam Artist?

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The IRS warns that these ghost preparers are dishonest and deceitful. These scam artists stop at nothing to make make quick money by promising a big refund. Another tactic these ghost preparers do, is they will charge fees according to the amount of your tax return. Usually, a percentage of the refund. These scammers are out to ruin your credit. They hurt law-abiding taxpayers who just want to do the right thing and file a legitimate tax return.

What Else Do I Look for With a Tax Scam Identity Thief?

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Ghost tax return preparers will also:

• Require cash payment only and usually will not provide a paid receipt.
• Make up income to wrongly qualify their customers for tax credits or claim bogus deductions to boost refunds.
• Send refunds to their bank account instead of you, the taxpayer’s account.
• Use your personal identification for future fraud purposes, such as your or your dependents social security numbers, dates of birth and bank account information.

Do you review your tax returns for accuracy?

review tax return for accuracy

Worthtax urges you, as the taxpayer, to review your tax return carefully. Don’t sign anything without asking questions when something is not clear. And, for tax refunds that are direct deposit, taxpayers must make certain that the routing number and the bank account numbers on the tax return are accurate.

How do I find a legitimate Tax Preparer?

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IRS has a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications ( This IRS Directory easily directs you to identify preparers by type of credential or qualification they hold. Also, the IRS offers numerous tips to help taxpayers select a tax return preparer sensibly. The Choosing a Tax Professional page has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications.

Do you suspect your were a victim of tax fraud?

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We advise taxpayers to report abusive tax preparers to the IRS, in addition to your local police department. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. As a taxpayer, do you suspect that the tax preparer is a fraud? Did the tax preparer change your tax return without your consent? File the Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

How do I protect myself from identity theft?

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Beware that once your give out your private information, it sets you up for other identity fraud scams. It is not uncommon for your private information to be sold on the black market. And, once you suspect you gave your private identity out, call the police right away! Don’t be ashamed to report it to the police. You are not the only person who is subject to these tax schemes. Not only will your good credit be affected, but your dependents will be also. And, identity thieves are patient. They will hold onto your information for years! So, when you think, it’s been 6 months and no one tried to open a credit card under your name.

Do you have questions about ghost tax preparation fraud?

We have a team of experts in who are listed with the IRS. We invite you to go to the IRS Choosing a Tax Professional page and researching our tax preparers and verify their status. Or, call Alex Franch, BS EA, an active enrolled agent with the IRS at 781.849.7200. Or, email the office at to schedule your appointment. And, better yet, go online and schedule your appointment now. This will help you set a deadline for yourself to gather all your tax documentation and be ready to sit down with him or someone else from our tax team.

Alex Franch, BS EA

Alex Franch, BS EA, Tax Consultant, Tax Planner, Business Tax Planner, Accountant, Tax Planning, Business Taxes, Corporate Tax PlanningAlex is a Tax Specialist and Partner at Joseph Cahill & Associates / WorthTax. He has a diverse background including a Bachelor of Science from Boston College in Mathematics and extensive military service. Alex is an Enrolled Agent and has a decade of tax preparation experience. He is passionate about serving businesses with tax and financial planning strategies. Mr. Franch is licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He holds a Series 6, 63, 65, and 7, and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Insurance. Alex Franch is a registered representative of, and offers securities and investment advisory services through, Commonwealth Financial Network. He is a registered broker-dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.

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