It's April 15th and many taxpayers still haven't filed their income taxes, are you one of them? If so, you may be tempted to rush around to any tax preparer to file at the last minute or even a few days late, but beware of unscrupulous tax preparers who may file false information on your return.
An article in the Dallas Morning News, offers a story that should serve as a warning when choosing your tax preparer.
The article said:
Joyce Marie Simmons went from running a Snow Cone stand to becoming the tax-refund queen of Polytechnic Heights, acquiring a newly built strip center valued at $860,000 and driving a $78,000 BMW 760 Li.
Before the April 15 tax filing deadline in past years, local business owners watched wide-eyed as last-minute filers spilled out the door of Simmons' Diamond Tax and Notary Service at 2812 Miller Ave., circling the building. Meanwhile, the customer flow was lax at three rival tax-preparation offices nearby. The secret of Simmons' success?
From 2003 through 2005, federal authorities say, her clients received windfalls from deductions and tax credits by claiming that they operated enterprises they didn't own and running up phony business expenses. They declared themselves the parents or guardians of bogus dependent children that inflated their exemptions, and Simmons, the government says, supplied the names, at times buying them from homeless people along with Social Security numbers.
Okay, there are a few things to note here, 1) there were lots of last-minute filers falling victim to this tax scammer. When you wait to the last minute you can become more vulnerable to tax scams so keep extra alert. Number 2) most of these taxpayers were probably surprised with their "windfalls" especially if they owed money in past years.
If you received a huge windfall when you were expecting to pay out to Uncle Sam, expect foul play and get a second opinion. Number 3) tax preparers in Texas ARE NOT required to undergo licensing or certification, a matter of fact they don't even need to register with state or federal tax agencies. That means there is little oversight and regulation on "kitchen counter" tax preparers, so if you can afford it you may want to work with a tax accountant.