What taxpayers should know when choosing a tax professional

Source: IRS Tax Tip 2023-19

Many taxpayers turn to tax professionals to help them prepare their federal tax return. These taxpayers should choose their preparer with care. While most tax return preparers provide quality service, unfortunately some are unreliable or even fraudulent. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for all the information on their income tax return, regardless of who prepares the return.

Taxpayers can review these IRS resources when choosing their tax preparer:

When using a tax return preparer, taxpayers should:

  • Look for a preparer who’s available year-round in case questions come up after filing season is over.
  • Ask about service fees. Taxpayers should avoid tax return preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or who offer to deposit all or part of the refund into their own financial accounts.
  • Ensure their preparer offers IRS e-file. The IRS issues most refunds in fewer than 21 days for taxpayers who file electronically and choose direct deposit.
  • Provide records and receipts. Good preparers ask to see these documents.
  • Understand the preparer’s credentials and qualifications and review their history for complaints or disciplinary actions.
  • Never sign a blank or incomplete return. Taxpayers are responsible for filing a complete and correct tax return.
  • Review their tax return before signing it and ask questions if something is not clear or appears inaccurate.
  • Make sure any refund will go directly to the taxpayer’s bank account – not into the preparer’s bank account.
  • Taxpayers should review the routing and bank account number on the completed return and make sure it’s accurate.

“Ghost” tax preparer warning signs

By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number. Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on any tax return they prepare. Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a quick profit by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund. Taxpayers should avoid these unethical “ghost” tax return preparers.

How to report preparer misconduct

Taxpayers can report preparer misconduct to the IRS using Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax return preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. Both these forms are available on the Make a Complaint About a Tax Return Preparer page of

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End of IRS Publication

Zaher Fallahi, Tax CPA, and Tax Defense Attorney, assists taxpayers nationwide with their tax preparation, cryptocurrency tax, foreign gifts, undisclosed foreign bank accounts, and other international tax matters. Tel.: (310) 719-1040, (714) 546-4272 and (877) 687-7558 toll free nationwide. Websites: and E-mail