TIGTA Wants Tips on Rogue Tax Preparers

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George asked tax professionals to provide his office with information on other preparers who are acting unethically or illegally as the IRS prepares to overhaul regulations for practitioners.

In a speech before the National Association of Tax Professionals, George described a series of investigations conducted by his office of tax preparers who had cheated clients and the government. Some had falsely claimed to be CPAs or enrolled agents.

“TIGTA periodically receives allegations about preparers who have stolen tax payments intended for the IRS or tax refunds intended for their clients,” he said. “These often come from preparers who are working with new clients. These clients may come to you because they did not get their refund in a timely manner or they received an inquiry from the IRS about a missed payment or have had a lien placed on their property. If you suspect that a preparer has misrepresented his or her qualifications or is engaging in a scheme to defraud clients or the government, we ask you to call our hotline. Similarly, if you suspect that your client intends to bribe or harm an IRS employee, or if you learn of an IRS employee soliciting a bribe from you or your client, we ask you to call our hotline. Our investigators routinely receive calls from tax practitioners, and they are specifically trained to deal with these types of situations.”

The TIGTA Hotline Complaints Unit can be reached at (800) 366-4484 or complaints@tigta.treas.gov. George also asked tax professionals to provide feedback on their experiences with the IRS.

In addition, he discussed some of TIGTA’s recent reports on tax preparers and the high rate of problems they had found in audits of unenrolled preparers. He noted that another recent report showed the IRS has trouble keeping track of many preparers because of inconsistencies in the Social Security Numbers, Preparer Tax Identification Numbers and Employer Identification Numbers they use. The report recommended that the IRS require all preparers to use unique ID numbers when submitting returns (see IRS Has Trouble Tracking Paid Preparers).

George also discussed IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman’s recent announcement that he plans to submit recommendations to the Treasury Secretary and the president by the end of the year to better regulate tax preparers (see IRS Plans to Step Up Tax Preparer Regulation). He encouraged NATP members to participate in the upcoming town hall meetings that the IRS plans to hold throughout the country (see IRS Schedules Tax Preparer Regulation Forums). The first one is scheduled for July 30 in Washington, D.C., and the NATP will be represented at the forum.

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