Warning signs your tax preparer could be a fraud

Personal Finance

Fraudulent tax preparers often work out of temporary pop-up shops.

Once tax season is done, those so-called professionals will no longer be at that location. That can be a big problem if you if you have a problem with your returns, Lauridsen said.

Other signs that crop up while working with a tax professional should tip you off that something is amiss.

Watch out for tax preparers who say your refund will be deposited in their bank account.

“That should be a red flag,” Lauridsen said. “A refund should never go into their bank account.”

Also, watch out when you’re signing the tax return. The tax preparer also should sign the return.

If you’re asked to sign a tax return that’s incomplete, do not do it, Lauridsen said.

Remember that when you sign the documents, you are taking legal responsibility for the information on them.

Craig W. Smalley, an enrolled agent at accounting and financial services firm CWSEAPA in Orlando, Florida, said he offers clients a free half-hour review of their returns, yet only about 20 percent of them take him up on the offer.

“Always review a return, because you want to know what’s on it before you sign it,” Smalley said.

This story is part of CNBC’s Tax Week coverage as the filing season wraps up on April 17. Stay tuned for more stories on tax tips and savings opportunities.

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