Tax time is upon us, with the season starting Friday when the Internal Revenue Service begins accepting and processing the 2020 tax year returns, according to a news release from the Wyoming U.S. Attorney's Office.

With that in mind, the Denver field office of the IRS' Criminal Investigation Division reminded taxpayers to file accurate tax returns and choose a tax preparer wisely.

Most taxpayers meet the obligation to report income from all sources and pay taxes according to the law.

However, those who willfully hide income should know that the IRS works across its divisions to ensure the highest possible compliance. Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines and jail time.

“Regardless of the source of income, all income is taxable,” said Andy Tsui, special agent in charge for Wyoming.

“The prosecution of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes is a vital element of the IRS' enforcement strategy," Tsui said. "We continue to aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud America’s tax system.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office also had a few pointers about tax return preparers. As of tax year 2018, 55% of taxpayers used a paid preparer.

Most preparers provide honest and professional services.

However, a small number of dishonest preparers set up shop during filing season to steal money, and personal and financial information from clients.

To avoid falling victim to unscrupulous preparers keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for a preparer who is available year-round in case questions arise after the filing season.
  • Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is required for paid preparers.
  • Inquire about the preparer’s credentials and check their qualifications.
  • Ask about service fees. Avoid preparers who base fees on a percentage of their client’s refund or claim to offer a bigger refund than their competition.
  • Never sign a blank or incomplete return and review it before signing. Refunds should go directly to the taxpayer, not the preparer.

For more tips on choosing a tax professional or to file a complaint against one, visit the IRS website.

People who suspect tax violations by a person or business may report it to the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral.

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