Tax Preparation Isn’t A Game, So Beware Those Who Make It Seem Like Play
Fun and tax preparation aren’t often paired together.
I recently read an industry article that began like this, “Michael Anderson and his wife, Kathy, spun his tax preparer’s electronic “prize wheel” and won a promise from the company to double their refund.” I was immediately horrified as any honest taxpayer and respectable tax preparer would be.
The story continued, “That never happened. Instead, the preparer charged the Andersons more than twice as much as Anderson says he was told, made mistakes on the federal return and, without Anderson’s permission, told the Illinois department of revenue that he wanted to donate his 2017 state refund to charity,..”
We’ve all heard the warning hundreds of times, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.” Yet, somehow people continue to believe and fall for the unbelievable.
This year, taxpayers are in for more unpleasant surprises than ever as a result of the new tax bill finally coming fully into play and with the government shutdown making it nearly impossible for taxpayers to get through to the IRS with questions. So, when a tax preparer makes it sound like filing your taxes is fun and games, you really need to walk away and find a respectable professional.
Preying On False Hopes
The tax-preparing firms that were implicated in the accountingtoday.com article were relatively new, having been in business since 2013. And, the following describes how the firms hired their tax preparers, “According to the complaint, the firms as recently as last year recruited prospective employees on Facebook with promises of potentially earning $50,000 to $100,000 in two to three months with “no experience needed” in preparing taxes.”
According to the article, here’s how the “inexperienced preparers” would be paid. “Preparers would earn $90 per return as long as the fees the preparers charged the consumer were more than $300. Less than that, and they’d earn a quarter of the fees they charged.” It’s pretty easy to see how the motivation to lie to taxpayers was fueled. In addition it was stated that, “The companies marketed their tax services in neighborhoods where residents rely heavily on the Earned Income Tax Credit, which often ends up accounting for a quarter or more of a family’s income. They offered cash advances on the refund and the chance to win prizes like a cruise to the Bahamas or gift cards.”
A Scam Is A Scam Is A Scam
If it sounds like a scam, it’s a scam. If it looks like a scam, it’s a scam. There’s just never a way to make filing taxes more lucrative or enjoyable. Yet the scammers are always looking for ways to trick the desperate, the hopeful and the uninformed. If you’re a multi-millionaire, sure there are legal loopholes that can be taken advantage of. But, you have to be making lots of money and paying lots of taxes to benefit from those. Most individual taxpayers and many small businesses have fairly straightforward returns.
If you’ve been scammed by unscrupulous tax preparers, don’t put yourself in a position to be scammed again. Give us a call. We’ve been helping the underdogs, families, individuals and small businesses get on and stay on the right side of the IRS for decades. We do what we say we will do. We do not give our clients empty promises. We look at each case objectively and honestly help our clients identify their best options.