How to make sure your tax preparer is helping, not hurting you

BALTIMORE - Many of you get help to do your taxes, but how can you be sure that person is helping you and not hurting you?

These days more and more people seek out help to prepare their taxes. In some cases-- tax preparers have cost some folks a lot of money.

Debbie and Keith Sleight were newly married and using extra money to send care packages to soldiers overseas.

The couple used a seasonal office tax preparer to file their taxes.

The tax preparer was recommended by friends who received big returns.

They were hit with an audit. It turns out the government says their tax preparer made up several thousand dollars worth of deductions.

Almost $9,000 worth of deductions they couldn't claim.

The law says that taxpayers are always responsible, no matter who fills out the forms so now they nearly $16,000 in back taxes.

"I  thought what he was doing was right," said Debbie Sleight.

But there are some warning signs,says Deputy Assistant Attorney General, David Hubbert.

"If the first thing they start talking about is guaranteeing you a refund that is something you should be concerned about," he said.

The Attorney General's office says there are clear red flags:

  • If you are asked to sign a form before it's completed
  • Or they only show you the bottom line and skip the details you should walk away.
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