Consumer Alert: Beware of unscrupulous tax preparers stealing refunds

New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate Camille Siano Enders recently warned taxpayers to beware of paid tax preparers who are stealing refunds.

Here’s how the scam works: The taxpayer – unfamiliar with the tax forms – is led to believe his refund is $200, when his actual refund is $2,000. The unscrupulous preparer pays the taxpayer the $200 on the spot. The preparer then arranges for the actual refund of $2,000 to be deposited into his bank account, stealing the $1,800 difference.

“Take steps to ensure you don’t fall victim to a dishonest tax preparer,” said Enders. “The vast majority of paid preparers provide honest, professional advice and service. But scams such as this are reminders that taxpayers must remain vigilant.”

The Taxpayer Rights Advocate recommended these steps for those using the services of a tax preparer:

Have the preparer review your return with you before you sign it

Never sign a blank or incomplete return

Make sure your preparer signs the return appropriately

Do not let the preparer deposit your refund into his or her checking account – have your refund deposited directly into your own bank account or sent directly to you on a debit card

Keep a copy of your completed and signed tax forms

Report tax evasion or fraud:

Do you suspect that a tax preparer isn’t complying with the law? You can file a complaint by calling 518-457-0578 (interpreters are available to assist).