Californians: Be Careful When Selecting a Tax Preparer

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For Immediate Release

02.24.2015

Sacramento — Franchise Tax Board (FTB) Chair Betty T. Yee and the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) today reminded the 64 percent of California taxpayers who use tax preparers to be cautious when choosing a professional.

“Performing a vital service for millions of people each year, most tax professionals are knowledgeable and trustworthy,” State Controller and FTB Chair Betty Yee said. “Unfortunately, there are some dishonest people in every industry, and I encourage taxpayers to be aware of the warning signs in tax preparation.”

Taxpayers should avoid preparers who:

  • Claim they can get bigger refunds than other tax preparers can.
  • Base their fee on a percentage of the refund amount.
  • Refuse to sign the tax return as the paid preparer even though they are required by law to do so.
  • Do not provide a copy of the tax return for the taxpayer to keep.

CTEC is a nonprofit corporation founded by the California State Legislature in 1997 to promote proficient tax preparation. CTEC registers people who assist taxpayers or prepare returns for a fee and are not licensed certified public accountants, enrolled agents, or attorneys. CTEC-registered tax preparers must complete courses on federal and state tax laws each year and obtain a $5,000 surety bond to protect clients. For more information on other regulated tax preparers who have their own industry requirements, consult the following organizations:

Other helpful resources include FTB Publication 982, How to Select an Income Tax Return Preparer (also available in Spanish) and IRS tips for choosing a professional tax preparer.

FTB administers two of California's major tax programs: Personal Income Tax and the Corporation Tax. FTB also administers other non tax programs and delinquent debt collection functions, including delinquent vehicle registration debt collections on behalf of the Department of Motor Vehicles, and court–ordered debt. Annually, FTB’s tax programs collect more than 65 percent of the state’s general fund. For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit taxes.ca.gov.

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