Tax season is upon us, so it is imperative to not get tricked by “ghost” preparers. According to the IRS, a ghost preparer does not put their signature on tax returns they prepare. Ghost preparers refuse to sign off on these documents as they deceive those who pay them in a scheme to make money under the radar. Anyone paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns is required to sign and should provide a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, by law. These ghost preparers deceive the unwary, so it is vital to look for the signs. The first red flag to keep an eye out for is how the preparer asks for their payment. Ghost preparers will require cash payments and will not provide receipts. Another flag is that a ghost preparer will invent income to qualify their clients for tax credits. If your preparer is attempting to claim fake deductions to boost the size of the refund, then they are raising a flag that they may be a ghost preparer. A final flag to keep watch for is that ghost preparers will direct funds into their bank account instead of the taxpayer’s. One of the best ways to avoid ghost preparers is to work with a professional tax return preparer. Don’t let yourself get trapped by a ghost, and instead you should hire a professional. Contact Lakeesha Browne, CPA for professional tax return help. This information was brought to you by the IRS. “IRS: Don’t be Victim to “Ghost” Tax Return Preparers.” IRS, 22 Jan. 2021, https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-dont-be-victim-to-ghost-tax-return-preparers Accessed 10 February 2021.