A warning about 'ghost' tax preparers

ByDiane Wilson KGO logo
Friday, January 31, 2020
Watch out for 'ghost' tax payers
The IRS issued a warning about unethical ghost tax preparers.

It's tax season, and who you choose to file your taxes matters.

The IRS issued this warning about unethical "ghost" tax preparers.

According to the IRS, a ghost preparer does not sign a tax return they prepare. They instead will print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. For e-filed returns, the person will prepare but refuse to digitally sign as the paid preparer.

The IRS warns 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 Troubleshooter Takeaways are to make sure your tax preparer has a valid preparer tax identification number, or PTIN, which is required by law. Next, make sure the preparer signs the return and that you get a receipt. Also, make sure your bank account has listed that you're getting a refund.

Again, if a tax preparer will not sign a return that is a big red flag.