My Tax Preparer Stole My Refund

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Ensure Your Tax Return Filing Is Error

Estimate Your Tax Refund

The IRS wonât issue tax refunds for incomplete or inaccurate returns. Theyâll contact you by mail if they need more information to process your return or need corrections before a final review.

How to reduce errors when filing your tax return:

  • Verify and use the correct SSNs
  • Match names to those listed on SSNs
  • Choose the right filing status with the Interactive Tax Assistant
  • Rely only tax preparation software for all calculations
  • Identify eligible tax credits and deductions along with the required IRS forms
  • Enter correct routing and bank account information for direct deposit refunds
  • Choose electronic filing so you may sign digitally before you hit submit
  • Renew your individual tax identification number on time

â Pro Tip: Use The IRSinteractive tool for all tax-related FAQs.

Other errors that may cause prolonged processing times include incorrect Recovery Rebate Credits or miscalculating your home office deduction.

â Related:What You Need to Know About Taxes for Your E-Commerce Business

How Do Criminals Steal Your Tax Refund Check

The easiest way for criminals to steal your tax refund check is if they have access to the physical check.

If fraudsters have access to your mailbox , they can simply steal your tax refund check and cash it at any number of retailers or check-cashing stores.

They can also endorse it to themselves and deposit it into their own accounts. There are even apps that allow you to deposit checks from your phone.

But another type of tax refund theft is becoming more common: Stolen Identity Refund Fraud .

And the consequences of SIRF for taxpayers may be much worse than losing a tax refund check.

Take action:

Lost Or Stolen Refund

You can always check the status of your refund using Wheres My Refund? at IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app. Wheres My Refund? is updated no more than once every 24 hours, usually overnight.

If one of these apps indicates the IRS issued your refund, but you havent received it, your refund may have been lost, stolen, or misplaced.

If this is the case, you can ask the IRS to do a refund trace. This is the process the IRS uses to track a lost, stolen, or misplaced refund check or to verify a financial institution received a direct deposit.

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How To Spot A Scam Artist

“You want to stay away from people who are showing big buckets of cash,” said Sarah Kull, the special agent in charge for IRS Criminal Investigations Detroit Field Office.

The IRS already has spotted all sorts of wild ads on social media. Sometimes, someone is holding a super-sized refund check to promote a given tax preparer.

But is the tax preparer really going to take time to find out whether you have a mortgage and could itemize deductions? Will the taxpayer even ask to see your paperwork? Does the preparer even care if you have children?

“You want to make sure they’re asking for your W-2s,” Kull said.

Too often, a phony preparer will file a fake Schedule C for a business, even if you aren’t running a business, to generate a bigger refund. If you know you aren’t running a lawn care service, she said, you shouldn’t be filing a tax form that says you do even if your preparer suggests that’s the way to go.

Sometimes, a fraudulent preparer will even go so far as to claim you have dependent children when you’re single and childless to wrongly try to generate a large refund by claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“All of a sudden, they have two kids when they have none,” Kull said.

Tax filers need to review their returns with their preparers and ask questions when they don’t understand something. Don’t sign a blank tax return and let the person you’re paying complete it. Don’t sign a return that you don’t understand.

Did Someone Really Steal Your Tax Refund Check

Is a Cyber

In 2021 alone, the IRS identified almost $2.2 billion in tax fraud . And thatâs only the scammers that got caught.

The worst part? Many Americans donât realize theyâre a victim of a tax scam until itâs too late. They file taxes as usual but the IRS rejects their legitimate tax return saying they already submitted and received a refund. But whereâs the money?

Scammers commit tax identity theft by claiming taxes in your name. All they need is a bit of stolen information like your name, Social Security number, and address. This means that if someone stole your tax refund, they may have also stolen your identity.

In this guide, weâll show you how to identify the warning signs of tax identity theft, what to do if someone steals your tax refund, and how to get your money back.

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Who Are The Professional Tax Preparers

Part of the problem lies in the relatively lax rules regarding whos allowed to prepare a return for someone else.

Although we usually associate the job with accountants, the fact is that, in most of the U.S., anyone can obtain a preparer tax identification number from the IRS and start taking on clients. Few states require a test or ongoing education before someone can hang up a shingle.

Now, some professionals, including chartered accountants, tax lawyers, and enrolled agents, are highly qualified to do returns and have to comply with a number of government regulations. But most independent tax preparers, who make up the lions share of the market, face little oversight.

Some taxpayers have been going to the same independent tax preparer for years with a high degree of confidence. But given the current system, its easy to choose a preparer who isn’t qualified or, worse, will intentionally manipulate your return in order to generate a higher fee.

Irs Warning On New Tax Refund Scam With Direct Deposit Refunds

It wasnt that many years ago when at this time of year credit unions would be on the lookout for counterfeit tax refund checks. Fortunately, several security features were added to US treasury checks in 2014 and add to that the 80% of refunds that are now direct deposited into financial institution accounts, and it is no surprise that tax scammers have moved on from counterfeit checks. This year the IRS is warning taxpayers of a scam where hackers steal peoples data from tax professionals and use the information to file fraudulent returns.

  • We can only deposit refunds electronically into accounts in your own name, your spouses name or in a joint account.
  • A financial institution may reject a direct deposit.
  • We cant deposit more than three electronic refunds into a single financial account.

Can I direct IRS to deposit all or part of my refund to any of my accounts with any financial institution?IRS will direct deposit refunds to any of your checking or savings accounts with any U.S. financial institution that accepts electronic deposits. However, you should verify that your financial institution accepts direct deposits for the type of account you want to direct your deposit to and verify the account and routing numbers.

Reminder: Your refund should only be deposited directly into accounts that are in your own name, your spouses name or both if its a joint account.

If I am filing a joint return with my spouse, must our refund be deposited to a jointly-held account?

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If Your Individual Tax Return And/or Refund Have Been Impacted

You can report a tax return preparer for misconduct, such as:

  • Filing an individual Form 1040 series return without your knowledge or consent.
  • Altering your tax return documents.
  • Using an incorrect filing status to generate a larger refund.
  • Creating false exemptions or dependents to generate a larger refund.
  • Creating or omitting income to generate a larger refund.
  • Creating false expenses, deductions or credits to generate a larger refund.
  • Misdirecting your refund.

How you report a tax return preparer for misconduct associated with your individual tax return depends on whether or not you received a notice or letter.

How To Participate In E

Tax Return Errors-Tips to Avoid Them
  • Complete the IRS application process to participate in the IRS e-file Program. It takes about 45 days to process the application. Read more about e-file and the IRS application process at www.irs.gov.
  • Once your Federal application is completed and approved, the IRS will forward your information to the State of Michigan and you are automatically accepted into the Michigan e-file program. Then you are ready to start e-filing!
  • Taxpayers can browse the IRS Authorized e-file Provider locator service to find a preparer who offers e-file.
  • For complete information regarding the Michigan e-file program, please review the Electronic Filing Programs Tax Preparer Handbook.

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Revisit Your Old Returns

When an error is found on your return, it is possible that the same error was made on previous returns – especially if you are using the same preparer. There is some good news, however. If you overpaid, you have three years from the return’s due date – or two years from the date you paid the tax – to amend your return and claim a refund.

If you underpaid, the IRS cannot collect additional tax if the original deadline or filing date was over three years ago. Otherwise, you may be liable for additional taxes.

Fixing Errors On Filed Returns

If the error seems to be the result of an honest mistake, you can ask your preparer to take the necessary corrective steps, including filing an amended return.

When the mistake results in fees or penalties, the service provider will often compensate the customer directly in order to smooth things over. Others may offer to contact the IRS on your behalf to negotiate forgiveness of the error or a reduction in the penalties, but not all preparers have the credentials needed to do so.

Should you suspect misconduct on the part of your preparer, you need to take a different tack. Specific forms exist, available for download from the IRS website, that you will need to fill out and mail or fax, using the contact information on the form.

Form 14157 on the IRS website deals with preparer malfeasance. If your tax return or refund was affected by the error, youll also need to complete Form 14157-A .

If you received a notice from the IRS about a problem with your return, mail the forms with copies of any supporting documentation to the address shown in the letter. If you did not get a notice, you should send it to the address where you send your Form 1040.

The IRS will conduct an investigation. If it finds intentional wrongdoing, it could rescind the individuals preparer tax identification number. Licensed preparers may also face action from their state’s regulatory body.

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Tricking You Into Installing Spyware And Malware

If you accidentally click a link in a spam email or suspicious message, you may have accidentally downloaded malicious software to record all your keystrokes. Your usernames, passwords, PINs, account numbers, and more will then be handed over to fraudsters. So how will you know if youâre a victim of stolen identity refund fraud?

The Person Who Did My Taxes Entered Their Account Number Instead Of Mine And Is Denying It And I Didn’t Receive My Refund

Is a Cyber

Understand the following facts first:

1. Turbotax can’t be used by professional tax preparers . If they used Turbotax, they already broke IRS regulations.

2. If you used Turbotax and chose that you would pay your turbotax fees out of your refund, your bank account number may not appear on your return. Your refund will be send to a third party bank who deduct the fees then send the rest of the money to you. It may be that your refund is just not paid yet, and you are looking at the bank account number for the processor. Make sure your tax returns were accepted. If they were rejected you will have to fix the errors and re-transmit them. Then check the IRS to see if the refund is paid yet.

If the third party bank has your refund you can contact them directly. You can contact Santa Barbara Bank & Trust customer service at 877-908-7228 or visit their website www.sbtpg.com

If your refund is paid and it was definitely paid to someone else, then:

Here is the link to request a transcript of your tax return, to verify what account number was actually used. You can add that information to the police report and the police can find out who owns that bank account .

Read Also: State Of California Sales Tax Rates

How Do Scammers Steal Your Identity To Commit Tax Fraud

The scary truth is that someone can steal your identity with just your ID.

But it doesnât take a lost or stolen wallet to expose your Social Security number, driverâs license number, or credit card numbers to scammers.

Identity thieves are becoming more sophisticated in their methods to steal taxpayer data and PII by:

Understanding Our Authority Regarding Complaints

You are ultimately responsible for the information reported on your tax return and any amounts you owe. It is important that you review your return carefully before the return is filed.

In most cases, we cannot effectively investigate cases without personal contact information. If you submit your complaint anonymously, we will be unable to verify the information in the complaint and contact you for additional information.

The Office of Professional Responsibility:

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What To Expect From The Bureau Of Fiscal Services :

The BFS will review your claim to compare your signature to the signature on the canceled check. Then theyâll decide whether to issue you an IRS replacement check or open an investigation.

â Heads up: the BFS review can take up to six weeks to complete.

If the BFS determines the check was forged, youâll receive an IRS replacement refund check. Then theyâll notify the IRS about the situation. But if your claim is denied, the BFS will send you a denial letter with instructions for how to appeal their decision.

If your tax refund was supposed to be deposited directly into your bank account, the BFS will send your financial institution a letter within six weeks of your refund trace. Then theyâll try to verify where the deposit went.

Avoiding The Bad Apples

IRS tax refund delay complaints leave some wondering if stimulus checks have caused more issues

To avoid having these sorts of problems with a tax preparer, research candidates before selecting one. If possible, get referrals from people you know who can vouch for their abilities and ethics. In addition, the IRS offers a directory where you can look up professionals with specific credentials, such as attorneys and certified public accountants.

And keep in mind that just because you’re hiring someone else to do most of the numbers-crunching and box-checking, it doesnt mean you should take a totally hands-off approach to your tax return. Ultimately, it’s your responsibilityand you’re the one on the hook for any taxes and penalties that arise from an inaccurate return. Make sure you review everything carefully, from the figures to the particular forms, before signing your name on that dotted line.

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What Is Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

SIRF occurs when identity thieves use your stolen personally identifiable information to file an income tax return before you do.

Tax scammers will often use fake income information and claim bogus benefits to get the biggest return possible. And while the thief receives your fraudulent tax refund check, the IRS flags your legitimate one as a duplicate.

Unfortunately, this scam is easy for criminals to pull off. All they need to commit tax refund fraud is your name, birthday date, and Social Security number .

But, how do these tax scammers get access to your personal information?

Request A Refund Trace From The Irs

If you think your refund check has been lost or stolen, the IRS can help track down your check or find the financial institution your direct deposit went to.

If your filing status is:

  • : You canât use the automatic refund trace. Complete Form 3911 and mail it to the IRS like you would normally file a paper tax return.

After the IRS does their sleuthing, theyâll process your missing refund according to how you requested your money.

  • If you opted for a paper check refund and it hasnât been cashed, the IRS will cancel the original check and issue you a replacement tax refund check. You should receive your replacement within six to eight weeks.
  • If your check has been cashed, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Youâll need to follow the instructions to complete a claim package.

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When Can We Start Filing Taxes In 2023

The first day you can file your taxes is Jan. 3, 2023. However, this isn’t the first day the IRS will begin accepting tax returns. Although you may be eager to get your taxes done early, youll need to wait until the IRS starts accepting returns before it can actually be processed.

It’s also recommended that you wait to file your taxes until youve received all your tax documents including W-2s, 1099s, and any other forms that document any income you earned in 2022. Employers have until Jan. 31, 2023, to send out W-2s, which means you may receive it a few days after if it’s sent out at the last minute.

If you plan on using a software preparation company to file your taxes, you can start inputting basic information on your forms so that youll have less to fill in once you receive all your tax documents.

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