Consumer Alert: IRS warns tax payers about “ghost” tax preparers

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HONOLULU (KHON2) – As tax season continues, the Internal Revenue Service is warning consumers about ghost tax preparers.

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If a tax preparer refuses to sign tax returns or can’t provide their tax preparer identification number, the IRS says they could be dealing with a ghost tax preparer.

“When it comes time for any questions about tax payer’s tax returns, they disappear,” said David Tucker, an IRS spokesperson.

The IRS says these scammers inflate tax credits or deductions for the tax payer.

“In that event, that is obviously against the law. Also, these preparers, sometimes base their fees on the refund that the taxpayer is going to be receiving. So what they do is they try to do things that can inflate that refund.”

Ghost preparers may also invent income to qualify their clients for tax credits or direct funds into their own bank account.

“Also, if someone’s asking to be paid just in cash, that would be an indication, because then you’re not getting a receipt necessarily. As you would with a credit card or with a check.”

The IRS suggest checking their directory of legitimate tax preparers. The public can also utilize the IRS’ E-File program to prevent falling victim to tax scams.

“It’s an alliance with tax software providers and what they do is they offer for those who earn under $72,000 to use their tax software for free. They can also go to our website and there is a directory of non-profit organization that are helping with volunteers that are IRS trained to prepare tax returns for free.”

To file a complaint against a ghost tax preparer, fill out the 14157 Form on the IRS website.

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