Tags: GAO | tax | preparers | errors

GAO Survey: Tax Preparers Make Major Errors

By    |   Thursday, 10 April 2014 12:29 PM

The work of tax preparers apparently leaves a lot to be desired.

The Government Accountability Office conducted undercover site visits to 19 randomly selected preparers in a metropolitan area, and the results weren't encouraging.

In 17 of the cases, preparers determined an inaccurate refund. The refund errors ranged from giving taxpayers $52 too little to giving them $3,718 too much.

For tax year 2011, paid preparers filled out an estimated 56 percent of about 145 million individual tax returns, according to the GAO.

Other common errors found by the survey include:

Failure in 12 cases to report income that belongs outside the W-2 form, including cash tips.

Claiming an ineligible child for the Earned Income Tax Credit in 3 of 10 applicable visits.

Failure to ask required eligibility questions for the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Failure to provide the preparer's correct tax identification number.

"If Congress agrees that significant preparer errors exist, it should consider legislation granting IRS the authority to regulate paid tax preparers," the GAO said in its report.

Unrelated to the GAO study, some tax preparers are accused of taking advantage of low-income taxpayers.

Stephen Black, director of Impact Alabama, a non-profit group that teaches college students to provide free tax assistance, told The New York Times that the volunteers often find poor people who paid hundreds of dollars to preparers for returns that were frequently incorrect.

"Exorbitant pricing is rampant,” he said.  


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The work of tax preparers apparently leaves a lot to be desired. The Government Accountability Office conducted undercover site visits to 19 randomly selected preparers in a metropolitan area, and the results weren't encouraging.
GAO, tax, preparers, errors
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2014-29-10
Thursday, 10 April 2014 12:29 PM
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