Frequently Asked Questions

The Ohio Department of Taxation has compiled a list of frequently asked questions covering many different categories.

To view the questions, click on the "Select Category" bar and then click on the category you are interested in.  A list of questions will appear pertaining to that category. Then click on the question you are inquiring about and the answer will appear.

What is a ghost/abusive preparer?

A ghost/abusive preparer is paid to prepare a tax return but does not sign the return as the paid preparer. If a paid preparer will not put their name on the tax return, this is a warning sign of a potential scam.

By law, anyone who prepares or assists in preparing tax returns for compensation must have a current, valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Any return prepared by a paid preparer should be signed by the preparer and must include their PTIN.

Ghost/abusive preparers are known to target honest taxpayers who are trying to meet tax deadlines and file legitimate income tax returns. These preparers scam honest taxpayers to make fast money.

Warning signs include:

  • Promising larger refunds than other paid preparers
  • Collecting fees based on a percentage of the refund
  • Requiring cash payments for services
  • Not issuing receipts for services
  • Inventing income to qualify for tax credits

Example: Creating false self-employment income to qualify for credits based on income thresholds such as the Federal earned income credit

 

  • Inventing income to qualify for larger deductions

Example: Creating false business income deductions to reduce taxable income and/or to qualify for credits based on income thresholds such as the Federal earned income credit

 

  • Having refund direct deposited into their own bank account

Tips when hiring a paid tax preparer:

  • Avoid preparers who claim they can guarantee larger refunds than other paid preparers
  • Avoid preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund
  • Assess whether the individual preparer or preparation firm will be around outside of the current tax season to answer questions
  • Never sign a blank tax form

If you believe that you have fallen victim to a ghost/abusive preparer scam, please visit www.irs.gov and complete Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. Also, please contact the Ohio Department of Taxation to report the scam by calling 1-800-282-1780.

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