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Protect yourself from bad tax preparers: Know your rights


Thu, Mar 2nd 2023 09:05 am

Tax preparers must display taxpayers’ rights and meet standards to ensure ethical service to customers

By the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance encourages taxpayers to know their rights when hiring a tax preparer. New York state’s consumer bill of rights regarding tax preparers establishes standards to help protect the public from dishonest tax preparers.

“Before hiring a tax preparer, taxpayers can review the state’s consumer bill of rights regarding tax preparers to make sure their preparer follows ethical practices and standards,” said New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Acting Commissioner Amanda Hiller. “While most tax return preparers are honest professionals, some take advantage of their position of trust and access to sensitive information to scam customers out of their hard-earned money.”

“By providing the consumer bill of rights regarding tax preparers, taxpayers know what they are being charged and if their tax pro will represent them in an audit,” said Kathryn M. Keane, EA, state office director, New York Chapter of National Association of Tax Professionals. “As tax professionals, we embrace the requirements in the bill of rights and encourage our members to discuss them with their clients.”

In New York state, tax return preparers must:

√ Post their New York state tax preparer registration certificate and price list;

√ Tell you up front whether they will represent you if your return is audited later;

√ Ask you about your income, expenses, family and any other information or documents needed to accurately complete your return;

√ Allow you to review your completed return – including your bank account information – and ask questions before you sign it;

√ Give you a written statement of any interest and fees you will be charged if you choose a refund anticipation loan (refund advance) or a refund anticipation check (refund transfer) instead of having your refund deposited directly into your bank account;

√ Sign your tax return and enter the preparer tax identification number (PTIN) and New York tax preparer identification number (NYTPRIN), if applicable;

√ E-file your tax return;

√ Give you a year-round address and phone number you can use if you have questions or concerns about your return; and

√ Provide you with a copy of your filed return.

Tax return preparers must also:

√ Post publication 135.1, consumer bill of rights regarding tax preparers (which is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Bengali, Yiddish, Hatian Creole, Korean, Italian, Arabic, Polish); and

√ Provide you with a free copy of publication 135, consumer bill of rights regarding tax preparers, or the New York City consumer bill of rights, prior to any discussions.

Tax Department investigators conduct compliance checks during the personal income tax filing season to ensure that tax preparers are following the requirements. Tax preparers who fail to do so are subject to fines and potential suspension of their tax preparer registration.

Verify Your Tax Return Preparer’s Credentials

Registered tax return preparers must renew their registration annually with the Tax Department and post copies of their current registration certificate. Some licensed individuals are not required to register with the Tax Department, but if someone provides you a tax refund anticipation loan or check, or helps you apply for a loan or check, they must be registered with New York state.

To confirm your tax return preparer’s credentials, see “Verify your tax return preparer or facilitator.”

File a Complaint

If your tax preparer does not comply with the requirements in the consumer bill of rights regarding tax preparers, you can file a complaint online with the Tax Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

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