The Arizona Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers to practice due diligence when selecting and hiring a tax preparer this tax season. Whether you prepare your own return or hire a tax preparer, you, the taxpayer, are ultimately responsible for what is filed.
According to the IRS, over 50 percent of tax filers used tax preparation services in 2021. While the majority are professional and qualified, there are cases of tax preparers who have submitted fraudulent returns or promised larger tax refunds by making unwarranted changes to the tax return.
What tips should I know before hiring?
• What kind of formal training does the preparer have and how current is the training?
• How long has the preparer been doing tax returns?
• Check their reviews and history to gather information on their performance and business practices. For CPAs, check with the State Board of Accountancy. For attorneys, check with the State Bar Association.
• Inquire about costs and service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund and be cautious of preparers that boast about delivering bigger refunds.
• Select a tax preparer that is available year-round. If you have questions about the return, you can contact the tax preparer after tax season.
• Will the preparer explain how the return was prepared in the event of an examination by ADOR or the IRS?
• Direct any refund to your account, not the preparer’s bank account.
• Ensure the tax preparer provides you with a copy of the entire return, including copies of all schedules, especially itemized deductions or credits.
• Confirm you understand your return and ask to explain any deductions, credits and wages claimed.
• Ask the preparer to sign the return and list their preparer tax identification number (PTIN).
• Review the tax return before signing and submitting to ensure numbers are correct, and schedules add up to the tax preparer’s source documents.
• Request that the preparer electronically file your return for a quicker, more accurate return. Paid preparers who do taxes for more than 10 clients must file electronically.
For more information on hiring a tax preparer, visit: https://azdor.gov/e-services/selecting-tax-preparer.
If you suspect that a person or business is violating Arizona’s tax laws, call our fraud tip hotline at: (602) 542-4023. Tips can also be submitted online by completing and emailing Criminal Investigation Information Referral. Tipsters may choose to remain anonymous.