The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) in Los Angeles County is reminding taxpayers to file accurate tax returns and choose a tax preparer wisely. The nation’s tax season starts on Friday, Feb. 12, when the agency begins accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns.
U.S. persons are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources. Most taxpayers meet this obligation by reporting all taxable income and paying taxes according to the law. However, those who willfully hide income should know that the IRS works across its divisions to ensure the highest possible tax compliance. Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines and jail time.
“The IRS has zero tolerance for taxpayers who willfully fail to pay their fair share,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Ryan Korner. “While most taxpayers diligently meet their responsibilities to report income and pay taxes, those who knowingly evade these responsibilities are criminals in the eyes of law. IRS-CI will work tirelessly with our civil counterparts to enforce the tax laws, hold accountable those who thwart them, and keep the Nation’s Tax System fair for everyone.”
Tax return preparers are vital to the U.S. tax system. As of tax year 2018, 55 percent of taxpayers used a paid preparer. Although most preparers provide honest and professional services, there is a small number of dishonest preparers who set up shop during filing season to steal money, personal and financial information from clients. Taxpayers can avoid falling victim to unscrupulous preparers by following important steps.
Tips when choosing a tax preparer
- Look for a preparer who is available year-round in case questions arise after the filing season.
- Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is required for paid preparers.
- Inquire about the preparer’s credentials and check their qualifications.
- Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund or claim to offer a bigger refund than their competition.
- Never sign a blank or incomplete return and review it before signing. Refunds should go directly to the taxpayer, not the preparer.
For more tips on choosing a tax professional or to file a complaint against one, visit IRS.gov. Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business, may report it to the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral.
[Information via news release from the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.]