Taxpayer Beware
Taxpayer Beware
Jan 14, 2021
The Scary Truth About Ghost Tax Preparers
Play • 26 min

It is a problem that happens every tax season. Ghost tax preparers. Who are they? They charge a fee to do your taxes, but never sign your tax return. 

So what can happen if a tax preparer doesn't sign? Well, how about owing thirteen thousand in fraudulent taxes? Or paying back your refund. With interest.

Unfortunately, it happens. And by the way, not signing is also against the law. 

Brandon Chanley, Chair of the California Tax Education Council (CTEC), chats with Esperanza Escobedo, a tax professional who has a true story to tell about a victim that encountered a 'ghost'. Joining her is Rebecca Landeros, part of the Franchise Tax Board Tax Preparer Enforcement Team, with insights on what she sees in the field and what to watch out for.

In California, only an attorney, CPA, CTEC registered tax preparer or IRS enrolled agent can do your taxes for a fee. Anyone who is preparing tax returns without one of those four legal designations is breaking state law. And there are thousands doing just that.

To find or verify the legal status of a tax preparer, visit

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