Ask Andy: Tax preparer scams

By Andy Wise - bio | email

MEMPHIS (WMC TV) -  A certified, licensed CPA doesn't have to do your taxes, although I prefer using a CPA.

There are plenty of reliable software programs and non-CPA tax preparers who are more than capable of doing your taxes.

But if your tax preparer is pulling one or more of these four stunts, fire him or her.  Right now.

BIGGER REFUND PROMISES. If a tax preparer tells you he can get you a bigger refund than the guy down the street, dump him. Your refund should be the same, no matter who prepares your taxes.

SIGN A BLANK TAX RETURN. If the preparer asks you to sign a blank return and leave it, don't! The preparer may be trying to file a fake return with your tax information.

* CHARGE % OF REFUND. If your tax person CHARGES YOU A PERCENTAGE OF YOUR REFUND as the fee, it's bogus. A legitimate tax preparer will charge you a flat fee based on the complexity of your return.

FAKE DEDUCTIONS. Beware suggestions of deductions the preparer can neither name nor quantify.

"If they tell you there's this deduction that the IRS wants you to take, whether you qualify or not, that's a big red flag. You need to walk out of there," said Dan Boone of the IRS.

Here's something interesting:  Boone said if your household income was less than $49,000 a year in 2009, you're entitled to have your taxes prepared FOR FREE!

Just call 211, the United Way's help line. Someone there can put you in touch with a local help center with pros who can do your taxes.

I have arranged a link to the list of all the approved tax centers in Shelby County on this page, as well as a link to the IRS's tax tips for the 2010 filing season.  File soon!

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