Slideshow Taxpayers Gone Wrong

  • April 07 2015, 7:24pm EDT
11 Images Total

Overflowing shoeboxes and a lack of basic documents aren’t the only things taxpayers bring into their tax preparers this time of year: They also bring along some pretty ridiculous ideas about the tax system.

We interviewed a number of tax pros about strange client misconceptions they’ve encountered; you can read the full story here; in the meantime, we’ve collected some of our favorites here, as well as some suggested by readers in response to our original story.

Income taxes are unconstitutional

Many taxpayers are either unaware of -- or simply don’t believe in -- the 16th Amendment.

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Getting a refund means they didn’t pay taxes

Some taxpayers believe that a refund is an indication that they didn’t pay any taxes; more often, it means that they had too much deducted from their paycheck.

‘Cash’ is not income

Oh, but it is – it really is.

If you’re older than 70, you don’t have to pay taxes

The actual age cited may vary, but a disturbing number of taxpayers believe that there is some magic age after which you are exempt from taxes. There isn’t – not even death is a bar to some taxes.

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Social Security cancels taxes

On a closely related note, some taxpayers think that once they start drawing Social Security, they no longer have to pay taxes or file a return – but they’re only safe from taxes if they have no other income besides the Social Security benefit.

Pets are dependents

Many taxpayers want to deduct their dog or cat, but they’re not dependents – just mooches.

Tax preparers work for the government

While some clients want their tax pro to cheat on their behalf, others go to the opposite extreme, believing that their preparer works for the government or on the government’s behalf. While some of the due diligence requirements forced on tax pros recently don’t help this impression, the fact remains that a tax pro can be a taxpayer’s best friend, and their best advocate with the tax authorities.

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The Jan. 31 deadline

Some tax pros report having clients who think that if they didn’t receive a W-2 or 1099 form by Jan. 31, they don’t need to include it in their return.

Notary publics are tax professionals

This one was brand-new to us – but it speaks volumes about the public’s understanding (or lack thereof) of who tax professionals are and what they do.

No refund, no fee

This is probably the most pernicious taxpayer misconception: the idea that if you don’t get a refund, you don’t have to pay your tax preparer.