Simple Solution to Tax Prep
First impressions count. It is true when you meet someone. It is also true when you file a tax return.
The first form that we are going to have you complete is the “General Information Form“. Although all the information that is collected is critical, some information used is cross checks to verify accuracy by the IRS.
Step 1: Name on return matches social security card.
Names on the return must be exact as they appear on the taxpayers’ social security card. If they are not, the return will be rejected.
All returns to the IRS are scrutinized by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is done to protect the taxpayer from identity theft. Theft of a taxpayer’s identity is on the rise. Even the most secured sites are hacked, including the IRS. It is a growing problem.
Step 2: Birth date must match recorded by the SSA.
All birth dates must be as found on the birth records, and as recorded by the SSA. People who say (or write) a different birth date are fined. If taxpayers give wrong information to a tax professional, the taxpayer is liable Not the tax preparer.
Step 3: Correct address
I had an interesting situation with the address of a taxpayer. Although I sent him numerous review copies, he did not review the copy. His address was wrong. The IRS sent his refund check (getting a check is dangerous given the rise in theft of mail, and that is why the IRS strongly recommends you let the IRS electronically download refunds to — up to three — bank or savings accounts) to his old address. The IRS has a special link on the official IRS website: www.irs.gov, for “where is my tax refund”: www.irs.gov/Refunds. When you change your address, you are obligated to inform the IRS, using Form 8822 (www.irs.gov/Refunds, the form that I had emailed him) and his tax preparer.
Recommendation 1: Use direct deposit.
Recommendation 2: Verify tax returns before signing.
Step 4: Refusing to pay preparer
Once my client received the refund, he wrote me and told me he would only pay $75 of his bill, and definitely would not pay finance charges. The balance and the finance charges continue to accrue finance charges until the full bill is paid including the finance charges. If the bill is not paid, the tax preparer submits a Form 1099-C (cancellation of bad debt) to the IRS and the taxpayer. The taxpayer must include the amount on Form 1099-C as income on his next return.
Recommendation 3: Follow your state law for payment dispute.
If the information is incorrect on a tax return, it will be accepted as correct. When the information is found incorrect, the taxpayer will be penalized or the tax return will be rejected. If not immediately corrected, the taxpayer is subject to penalties and fines. An amended return does not erase the penalties and fines or assessments.
Once the names, birth dates, and address (and telephone number) is added to the return, if the taxpayer(s) have dependents, similar information is required for each dependents. I will discuss what a dependent is and how that individual is to be treated at tax time, on the next blog.
The importance of correct information of the tax form is critical. On page 2 of Form 1040, above where the taxpayer(s) sign the return, it is printed in bold type that it is the taxpayer who is ultimately responsible for the tax return—not the tax preparer.
Complete the “Simple Solution to Tax Prep: General Information Form” (the top half) verify it for accuracy and file it in your Tax Binder.