When it comes to preparing your taxes, taxpayers should avoid unethical tax return preparers, known as “ghost” preparers. By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid 2020 Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN.


As the beginning of the tax-filing season rapidly approaches, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers to avoid “ghost” tax return preparers.

According to the IRS, a ghost preparer prepares a tax return but neither signs it nor includes necessary information. The department warns taxpayers to be aware they may be a part of a scam if a preparer won’t put their name on the tax return.

Busting the Ghosts

All taxpayers should ask a potential tax preparer is for his or her preparer tax identification number (PTIN). The IRS issues PTINs to all tax preparers, who are compensated for preparing, or assisting in the preparation of, federal tax returns. Filing a return without a PTIN often raises serious issues for taxpayers.

Be weary of the following things ghost preparers do:

  • Requires payment in cash and will not offer a receipt.
  • Cooks the books – Falsify income so the client qualifies for a tax credit.
  • Claim fake deductions to increase the refund amount.
  • Direct the tax refund to go to their bank account instead of the client’s.

Moreover, the information in your tax return contains contains everything that a scam artist needs to steal your identity, file tax returns on your behalf, or even steal your refund. Be vigilant and never provide any sensitive information over the telephone.

Who ‘Ya Gonna Call?

Undeniably, all taxpayers want a larger tax refund. However, hiring a “ghost” preparer ultimately costs taxpayers more time and money. Knowing a licensed CPA prepares your return allows you a piece of mind. Call Onyx Tax, today.