Who’s preparing your tax return?


In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Michael Brostek, Director of Strategic Issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), noted that in “visits to commercial preparers, paid preparers often prepared returns that were incorrect, with tax consequences that were sometimes significant.” The GAO had returns prepared at 19 outlets of several commercial chain preparers throughout a major metropolitan area. Staff members posed as taxpayers and asked that returns be prepared under two scenarios: (1) a plumber and his wife with one child in college, and (2) a low-income single mother who worked as a retail sales clerk with babysitting income on the side. Mr. Brostek stated that the preparers came up with unwarranted extra refunds of up to almost $2,000 in five instances, while in two cases they cost the taxpayer over $1,500. For the complete report, visit the GAO website at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d06563t.pdf .

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