Experts: 60 percent of tax preparers get your return wrong

According to the Government Accountability Office, more than 60 percent of tax preparers file incorrect tax returns. The GAO has suggested to Congress to set education requirements for people to charge money to prepare others’ tax forms. (AP file)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Whomever you pay to do your taxes may not know what they are doing, or possibly could be getting the numbers wrong on purpose, according to the Government Accountability Office.

On Thursday, Senators listened to Gene Dodaro, Comptroller of the United States, testify the different ways he thinks the U.S. could improve its financial situation. Part of Dodaro’s testimony focused on how much money the GAO thinks should have been paid to the U.S. government but never made it into the federal coffers. They call it the “Tax Gap.”

According the GAO’s analysis of IRS information, Americans did not pay approximately $450 billion in taxes in 2006.

Dodaro said as part of their investigation they brought in 19 tax preparers and asked them to fill out returns.

“Two of the 19 gave us the right information,” Dodaro said. “60 percent of the returns filled out by paid tax preparers had errors.”

The GAO’s proposal asked members of Congress to change legislation that requires tax preparers across the country to take classes and set education requirements in order to charge people to work on their taxes.

46 states in the U.S. do not regulate independent tax preparers who are not CPAs, “enrolled agents,” attorneys or certain types of banking officials, according to Pew Research.

New York, California, Maryland and Oregon do have requirements.

Dodaro also suggested moving up the deadline for filing W-2s from April. The GAO’s investigation claimed the later date makes it tougher for the IRS to look into fraud.

Members on the Senate Finance Committee said they plan to take these suggestions and put some ideas into an upcoming bill.

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