IRS Seeks Help with Ghost Preparers

The IRS is requesting help from the preparer community in its campaign against “ghost preparers.” Anyone who is paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid 2019 PTIN, sign the return and include their PTIN. However, ghost preparers may just print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. Or for e-filed returns, they prepare the return but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer. They may also:

  • Require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt.
  • Invent income in order to qualify their clients for tax credits or claim fake deductions to boost their refunds.
  • Direct refunds into their own bank account rather than the taxpayer’s account.

Do you know someone who had a tax return prepared by a ghost preparer? It could be:

  • A new client looking for help after receiving a letter or notice from the IRS.
  • A small business owner trying to get a loan, but when questioned about their return, they admit what’s reported isn’t really true.
  • Someone bragging about the huge refund they got.

The IRS is looking for victims of ghost preparers who are willing to share their experiences. People telling their stories of how they were harmed can make the biggest difference in protecting others. Who can you reach out to with this information?