Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Do Tax Preparers Know What They're Doing?

Pretty much anyone can charge a fee for doing your taxes, and it shows.
Tax Forms Ahead Of 2014 Income Tax Deadlines
Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

For several years, researchers have been sending people into tax preparation offices to test the quality of the work. The results have been scary:

Such incompetence isn’t hard to find. Last year, the National Consumer Law Center tested (PDF) 29 tax prep offices and found only two forms completed correctly. Just two of 19 preparers randomly selected by the U.S. Government Accountability Office calculated the correct refund amount in 2014. One GAO tester was told that income didn’t need to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service if it was reinvested in a mutual fund.