By Darwin Strickland, Presidio of Monterey Tax CenterMarch 21, 2013
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. - No matter who prepares your return, you are responsible for what goes to the IRS.
However, many people assume they are not responsible to the IRS if something is entered incorrectly because they had a "professional" complete their return or there is an implied "guarantee" that the return is correct.
The following suggestions are just a few ways for you to minimize your risk or to catch your preparer's errors from having issues with the IRS when filing your 2012 return.
First, all names should match the Social Security cards and every Social Security number should be verified on the return. This includes children and other dependants you are claiming on your return.
If the Social Security number is entered incorrectly, it could reject your return or create a larger issue for the next filing season.
If you recently got married but have not changed your name with the Social Security office, you should use your maiden name until you receive another card from the Social Security Administration.
Additionally, the tax payer should make sure their Social Security number on Forms W-2, 1098 and 1099 are correct. If these numbers are incorrect, you need to contact the issuing organization to produce a corrected form before filing your return.
Common areas that the IRS reviews closely due to abuse are excess Child Tax Credits, Earned Income Credits and Education credits. Those are called refundable credits. In other words, the IRS gives you back money even if you paid nothing in. If you are claiming any of these credits, make sure you are entitled to them and you retain proof with your return.
Depositing your refund directly into your account or having the amount you owe come out of your account is a convenient feature that many tax payers use. However, you should check the routing and account numbers prior to leaving your tax appointment. Make absolutely certain it is your account -- and that the account is open. If you use the wrong number and someone else gets your refund, the IRS cannot help you.
Review all amounts entered on the Form 1040. If there are any calculations you do not understand on your return, ask the preparer to explain. Many times the tax software will automatically make the calculations for the amounts reported. However, you should be able to explain all these amounts and why they are on your return.
Bottom line: Review your entire tax return.
Do not assume everything is correct, because you are responsible for all amounts that are transmitted to the IRS.
If you see something that you don't understand, ask. If your tax preparer refuses to provide answers, or to let you see your tax return before it is e-filed, take your records and leave.
The Presidio of Monterey Tax Assistance Program offers FREE tax assistance to eligible customers to prepare and electronically file state and federal returns accurately and expeditiously.
For additional information regarding this topic or to make an appointment, call the Tax Center at 831-242-7365.