No, this isn’t an idea for your next Halloween costume. Ghost preparers are people who don’t sign the tax returns that they prepare, which is both unethical and illegal. All paid preparers must sign and include their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) on the return, and if they don’t, this is a big red flag. These preparers might also promise unrealistic refunds or charge fees based on the size of the refund.
If you use a tax preparer, always vet them wisely. The IRS also has a page dedicated to helping taxpayers choose a reputable tax professional on IRS.gov and a Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications.
* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific, individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.
Tip adapted from IRS.gov5
Footnotes and Sources
- IRS.gov, February 17, 2021