If you pay someone to prepare your tax return, make sure that tax
preparer is legal. California law requires anyone who prepares tax
returns for a fee to be either an attorney,
public accountant (CPA), enrolled agent (EA), or registered tax
preparer with the California
Tax Education Council (CTEC).
Hiring a tax preparer that cannot be verified as one of those four
professionals may prevent you from having legal recourse against fraud,
as well as increase your chances for additional taxes, interest and
"Recommendations are definitely important, but that doesn't
automatically mean they're legal. Play it safe. Verify for yourself,"
said Mary Beth La Munyon-Jones, chair of CTEC.
Although professional tax preparers are required to sign your tax return
to show proof of work, it is still you, the taxpayer, who is
ultimately responsible for all infomation listed on the tax return-no
matter if it is right, wrong or even fraudulent.
"The problem is unscrupulous tax preparers only care about taking your
money. They don't ask the right questions and that can get you into
trouble with your taxes," said Elvira Reyes, vice president of the Hispanic
Association of Professional Services.
In addition to state rules, the Internal
Revenue Service is now requiring that all paid tax preparers
register for a Preparer
Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Tax preparers must include their
PTIN on every federal tax return they prepare for clients.
"If they don't have a PTIN, walk away," said La Munyon-Jones.
To verify the legal status of…
CTEC is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1997 by the
California State Legislature to protect taxpayers against fraud and
incompetent tax preparers. Visit www.ctec.org
or call (877) 850-CTEC for more information.
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