CTEC Announces The Top Three Ways Scammers Steal Your Tax Refund

The first sign your tax preparer is a fraud usually starts with
taking a piece of your tax refund

SACRAMENTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#2017taxseason–Did you know tax preparers are not allowed to take a percentage of your
tax refund as compensation? Nor can they base their fee on the amount of
your tax refund. And according to the CTEC, you should never trust
advertisements that “guarantee” tax refunds before reviewing your

“How can anyone know if you’re entitled to a tax refund until they’ve
looked at your paperwork? It’s simple. They can’t,” said Lester
Crawford, chair of the California
Tax Education Council (CTEC)
, a state-mandated nonprofit
organization that manages the registration of more than 40,000
unlicensed tax preparers.

“The key to staying out of trouble with the IRS and getting the
so-called ‘biggest refund’ is all about how much the tax preparer knows
about tax laws,” Crawford said.

It is one of the reasons why California requires tax preparers to be
licensed or registered.

Anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee must be either an attorney,
public accountant (CPA)
, CTEC-registered
tax preparer (CRTP)
or enrolled
agent (EA)
. Each professional must pass an initial test and follow
educational requirements.

Yet despite state requirements, there are still countless “ghost” tax
preparers who are stealing tax refunds from unsuspecting taxpayers.

“Ghost tax preparers are the hardest to track down because they don’t
sign client tax returns. They just take the money and vanish,” said
Esperanza Escobedo, CRTP and CTEC board member.

Below are the top three facts taxpayers should know about tax refunds…

• The tax refund should always be deposited or mailed directly to you.
Never to the tax preparer.

• The fee should be based on the complexity of your tax return, not the
amount of your tax refund.

• Never trust a tax preparer who promises “bigger” tax refunds than
competitors or guarantees a tax refund before reviewing your information.

“If the tax preparer somehow wants a piece of your refund? Walk away,”
Escobedo said.

CTEC is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1997 by the
California State Legislature to protect taxpayers against fraud and
incompetent tax preparers. Taxpayers can report unregistered tax
preparers at ctec.org
or visit reporttaxpreparerfraud.org for more tips.


California Tax Education Council
Gigi Jones, 916-296-6913