Ten Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer in Miami

Choose your Tax Preparer in Miami wisely

Many people look for help from professionals when it’s time to file their tax return. If you use a paid tax preparer in Miami to file your federal income tax return this year, the IRS urges you to choose that preparer carefully. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are legally responsible for what is on it.

Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax preparer in Miami:

1. Check the preparer’s qualifications.  All paid tax return preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask if the preparer belongs to a professional organization and attends continuing education classes.

2. Check on the preparer’s history.  Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Also check for any disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state boards of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar associations. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.

3. Ask about service fees.  Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers can. Also, always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into an account in your name. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.

4. Ask to e-file your return.  Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients must file the returns electronically, unless the client opts to file a paper return. IRS has safely and securely processed more than one billion individual tax returns since the debut of electronic filing in 1990.

5. Make sure the preparer is accessible.  Make sure you will be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return, even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions arise about your tax return.

6. Provide records and receipts.  Reputable preparers will request to see your records and receipts. They will ask you questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for deductions, credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return by using your last pay stub before you receive your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules

7. Never sign a blank return.  Avoid tax preparers that ask you to sign a blank tax form.

8. Review the entire return before signing.  Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything and are comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.

9. Make sure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN.  A paid preparer must sign the return and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

10. Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS on Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or altered a return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. Download the forms on the website or order them by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


CPA in Miami Pleads Guilty in Identity Theft Scheme

A CPA in Miami has pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges after he was accused of using his clients’ identities to file for large tax refunds that went to his address.

Jose Magpantay Ramirez’s CPA in Miami, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of conspiracy to defraud the IRS, mail fraud, submitting false claims to the U.S. and aiding and abetting.

According to the plea agreement, Ramirez, 72, operated a CPA in Miami Firm out of his residence using the names “L Financial,” “PhotoPure,” and “CashSend Inc.”  From February 2006 until about March 2009, he and others fraudulently obtained income tax refund checks using his clients’ names. Ramirez admitted he prepared tax returns using his clients’ identities, claiming no tax refund due and represented to his clients that he would file the tax return with the IRS.

Thereafter, the CPA in Miami would prepare and file with the IRS other tax returns (both Form 1040 or 1040X), in the names of his clients and without the clients’ consent.  On the subsequent tax returns, Ramirez would list, or cause others to list, bogus expenses and deductions that generated a false tax refund.

Ramirez admitted he also directed the false refund to be mailed to his own Valley Village address and other addresses associated with him.  He then falsely endorsed or directed others to falsely endorse the fraudulent refund checks and deposited them into bank accounts in the names of his businesses.

In total, the CPA in Miami admitted he caused over 200 false income tax returns to be filed with the IRS, causing the IRS to issue over $1.5 million in refunds for which he was not entitled. He faces up to 150 years in prison and a fine of up to $2.75 million.


Tax Season May Be Opportune Time to Market Accounting Services

With less than a month left to go until the April 15 tax deadline, most tax return preparers are up to their elbows in work. Nevertheless, it might be an opportune time to land some new accounting services clients, since people are thinking about their taxes and wondering if they might pay less next year if they find a qualified tax accountant now.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fiasco at the nation’s largest tax return preparer, H&R Block, where a mistake caused the delay in processing some 600,000 customers’ returns. The blunder likely will have many taxpayers wondering if it’s time to shop around.

But it remains clear that tax preparers in general have a captive audience to upsell their accounting services. A February survey of just over 1,000 wage earners by the finance and accounting services found that about half of middle-income wage earners pay to have their returns prepared by someone else because they to get want the biggest refund possible.

The survey found that:

  • About 44 percent of working Americans will go to an accounting services to prepare their taxes this year, including 49 percent who make between $30,000 and $50,000 annually.
  • Among those who make $100,000 or more, 66 percent say they will get their return professionally prepared.

The tax preparation industry is in transition, and it’s an especially challenging time for those accounting firms that work for lower-income clients with simpler returns.

There are more small-time preparers in the market because of the relative ease of use of such software programs as Intuit’s TurboTax. And then the free IRS e-file service is taking away an increasing number of lower-income taxpayers with basic returns.

In response, many tax preparation firms now provide basic services for free. In doing so, they attract customers who subsequently sign up for fee-based accounting services, such as state income tax preparation filing.

If tax preparers market themselves properly, there’s plenty of opportunity for those who target middle-income and high-income tax clients, industry experts say.

The negative publicity surrounding H&R Block’s troubles presents “another good reason to remind people of the value you provide. But it’s a delicate situation. You don’t want to bad-mouth the competition.

Communicating with potential new or former clients before tax season, without necessarily making a sale pitch, can also be worthwhile, especially if it’s done in a personal way. Just e-mailing tax tips or reminders about deadlines isn’t enough to get their attention given the blizzard of e-mails most people receive, he said.

CPA’s and accounting services need to do more to differentiate themselves from tax preparers who are merely performing data entry.

Most consumers don’t understand the differences between H&R Block and someone who is a CPA, an EA, or a tax attorney. They’re all viewed the same way by some people – as someone paid to prepare forms. Find ways to educate potential clients about your education and your abilities to reduce their taxes as a valued advisor as their accounting services provider.