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Taxpayers Cautioned to Carefully Choose Tax Preparers

Released: February 27, 2009

Sacramento - The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) reminds the 68 percent of California taxpayers who use professionals to prepare and file their tax returns to make sure they choose carefully.

The IRS and FTB have issued a brochure, FTB Publication 982, How to Select an Income Tax Return Preparer where taxpayers can learn more about choosing a tax professional. Taxpayers should make sure the preparer they choose is a licensed CPA, Public Accountant, Enrolled Agent, attorney, or is a registered tax preparer with the California Tax Education Council. The following organizations can provide information about licensed and registered tax professionals in California:

Taxpayers are cautioned to avoid tax preparers who:

  • Claim they can get bigger refunds than other tax preparers.
  • 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’s records.

Taxpayers should realize they are ultimately held accountable for the information on their tax return even if they pay someone else to prepare it. The majority of tax professionals are honest and provide a quality service. Unfortunately, there are dishonest tax preparers who may inflate expenses and deductions, claim unallowable credits, or take excessive exemptions and leave their clients accountable.

FTB continues to pursue unlicensed and dishonest tax preparers. Last year, FTB arrested two tax preparers on felony chargers of filing fraudulent tax returns, and assessed 83 with penalties for failing to be properly licensed or registered. If taxpayers suspect a tax preparer is fraudulent, they can now inform FTB online at www.ftb.ca.gov by selecting “Report Tax Fraud” under the online services, or by calling 800.540.FILE (3453).