The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 1, 2014

Get-rich schemes floated by quack preparers carry jail risk

— When all the number-crunching is done, taxpayers hope for just one thing — a refund. A huge one at that.

You want to find every dollar possible — and scam artists are well aware of it.

Watch out for dishonest preparers willing to file a fraudulent — illegal — tax return for you, for a price.

The temptation to falsify tax returns in exchange for a large check carries the same lure as every other get-rich-quick scheme and should be treated with the same caution.

It may sound like a great idea, but you won’t think so when the Internal Revenue Service comes calling. Tax evasion is a felony. You are responsible for all information provided in your tax return, whether you completed the paperwork or had someone else do it. If you knowingly participate in a scheme to fudge on your tax return, you not only won’t get rich quick, but could be hit hard with fines and penalties, lose everything you own — or end up in prison.

While there are many legitimate tax-return preparers, there are also plenty of unscrupulous ones and they will generally solicit you by phone, email or mail. They may also approach you through friends and relatives.

Luring you with the promise of a bigger return, hack preparers will claim they can reduce the amount of taxable income reported, find secret loopholes or convince you to avoid paying any taxes at all.

Some of the most common tactics used are formulating false or inflated itemized deductions for charitable contributions or claiming false dependents.

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