The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has warned taxpayers to avoid “ghost” tax return preparers whose refusal to sign returns can cause an array of problems.
The service reiterated that it is important to file a “valid, accurate tax return” because the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for it.
Ghost preparers get their name from the claim that they don’t sign tax returns they prepare they will print the return and get the taxpayer to sign and mail it. For e-filed returns, the ghost preparer will prepare but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid personnel.
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 the return. Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund.
The IRS has urged taxpayers to review it carefully and ask questions about anything not clear before signing. Taxpayers should verify both their routing and bank account number on the completed tax return for any direct deposit refund. And taxpayers should watch out for preparers putting their bank account information onto the returns.