Tax season is upon us, and for many Americans, this means entrusting their tax preparation to third-party companies. While these services can be convenient and may provide assistance in navigating the complex world of taxes, it’s important to know your rights as a taxpayer before signing any documents.
The Risks of Signing Blank or Incomplete Tax Forms
Many tax preparation companies require customers to sign blank or incomplete forms that will later be filled in by an employee. This practice raises several red flags:
- Risk of errors: Omitting information or making mistakes when filling out forms can lead to costly penalties from the IRS.
- Lack of transparency: You won’t know exactly what you’re signing up for until after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
- Loss of control over your personal information: When you sign blank documents, you give up control over how your sensitive data could potentially be used.
Your Taxpayer Bill of Rights
Fortunately, as a taxpayer in the United States, there are protections in place that help ensure fair treatment during tax season. Here are some key points from the IRS’ “Taxpayer Bill of Rights”:
- The right to privacy and confidentiality: Your personal information should remain private and secure throughout the tax preparation process.
- The right to quality service: You have a right to accurate advice and representation when dealing with any IRS representative or third-party company.
- The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax: You shouldn’t be penalized for someone else’s errors or misconduct.
How To Protect Yourself During Tax Season
To protect yourself during tax season, consider taking these steps:
Ask questions about who will be preparing your taxes: Before handing over sensitive information, make sure you understand who will be handling it and what their qualifications are.
Read all documents carefully before signing: Don’t sign anything blindly. Take the time to carefully read through all documents and ask questions about any sections you don’t understand.
Keep copies of all paperwork: Make sure you have a copy of every document that you sign or receive during the tax preparation process.
File your taxes on time: Missing deadlines can result in costly penalties, so be sure to file your taxes by the appropriate deadline.
Tax season doesn’t have to be stressful if you know your rights and take steps to protect yourself during the tax preparation process. By following these tips, you can ensure that your tax experience is as smooth and stress-free as possible while also safeguarding your personal information and avoiding costly mistakes.
Can the tax preparer file my return without my signature?
Yes, a tax preparer can file your return electronically without your signature. However, they are required to obtain your consent before doing so. If you do not provide your consent, they must file a paper return that includes your signature.
What if the tax preparer files my return without my knowledge or consent?
If a tax preparer files your taxes on your behalf and without your consent or knowledge, it could be considered fraud or identity theft. You have the right to report this to the IRS and take legal action against the fraudulent tax preparer.
Can I change or dispute information on my return after it has been filed?
Yes, you can request changes to an already filed tax return by filing an amended federal income tax return (Form 1040-X). If you disagree with any aspect of your original filing, such as errors made by the preparer or undisclosed deductions/credits that could potentially decrease taxes owed/increase refund owed), then consulting with a qualified CPA/tax attorney is recommended before proceeding with amending a previous year’s filings as there may be implications including opening of audit proceedings if amended returns cause wide deviation/target unfair inputs in data queries from IRS systems .