Paying taxes can be painful, but falling victim to a fraudulent tax preparer is worse. Every year, scammers prey on unsuspecting Oregon taxpayers, stealing their refunds and leaving them with significant tax liabilities. The scammers also inflate expenses and claim false deductions and unallowable credits. As tax season approaches, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger is urging taxpayers to watch out for fraudulent tax preparers.
Oregon taxpayers can protect themselves by verifying that their tax preparers are licensed with the Oregon Board of Accountancy http://egov.oregon.gov/BOA/ or the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners http://www.oregon.gov/OTPB/about_us.shtml. Never give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account or mortgage receipt to a paid tax preparer unless you have determined they are licensed.
In Oregon, to receive compensation for preparing taxes, an individual must be:
- A CPA or public accountant licensed in Oregon by the Board of Accountancy or a CPA or public accountant licensed by another state’s board of accountancy.
- A lawyer or an employee of a lawyer.
- A tax preparer or a tax consultant licensed by the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners.
As an example of effective enforcement, last year, the Oregon Department of Justice and the Board of Tax Practitioners teamed up to stop an unlicensed tax preparer who violated the law 534 times.
Attorney General Kroger, the Oregon Board of Accountancy and the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners offer the following tips for choosing an income-tax preparer:
- Check to ensure any paid preparer is licensed by checking: http://boahost.com/egovlicsearch.lasso or http://www.oregon.gov/cgi-bin/tax.cgi
- Be wary of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger than normal refunds than others
- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund
Tax evasion is a federal felony, punishable by five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a tax preparer scam, contact the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392, the Oregon Board of Accountancy at 503-378-4181, or the Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners at 503-378-4034.