Find the Right Tax Preparer for You this Filing Season

February 13, 2024

More than 739,000 tax preparers nationwide have been issued Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) by the IRS for the 2024 tax season, ensuring that they’re qualified to properly file your Individual Income Tax return. If you need help filing this season, the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) has guidance to help you select one of these qualified, credentialed tax professionals.

While most preparers are honest and provide great service, both the IRS and the SCDOR regularly prosecute unscrupulous tax preparers. The IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit identified $37.1 billion in tax and financial crimes during the last fiscal year. As recently as March 2023, the SCDOR brought charges against two tax preparers who prepared fraudulent tax returns and claimed the refunds in the names of seven taxpayers without their knowledge or consent.

If you’re thinking about using the services of a tax preparer, the IRS and the SCDOR offer the following tips:​

​ Avoid tax preparers who:

  • Base their fee on a percentage of your refund.
  • Claim they can obtain larger refunds than other tax preparers.
  • Refuse to sign a return they prepare. These folks are referred to as “ghost preparers.” Not signing a return or providing other identifying information is a red flag that the preparer may be a scammer. By not providing this information, it will appear that your return was self-prepared, which helps the ghost preparer avoid responsibility if there are issues.
  • Ask you to sign a blank tax return.

What to consider in picking a tax preparer:

  • Consider free and low-cost options available for filing your return before deciding to visit a tax preparer. Visit to learn more.
  • Check their qualifications. All preparers must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). You can use the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications to help find a preparer. Only CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers in all matters. South Carolina has no licensing requirement for tax preparers, though those with professional credentials such as CPAs are overseen by state boards.
  • Ask about the preparer’s fees. Do not give them your tax documents, Social Security Numbers, or other personal information when making this request.
  • Make sure your preparer offers electronic filing. The quickest way to get your refund is to file electronically and choose direct deposit. Electronic filing is also the most secure, accurate option.
  • Look for preparers who work all year, not just during tax season. Confirm that your preparer will be available after the tax filing deadline in case you have questions.
  • Research tax preparers and read their reviews to make sure there aren’t any red flags. You can check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the preparer doesn’t have a questionable history.

​ ​After you select a preparer:

  • Provide all records and receipts needed to prepare your return. Good preparers will ask for these and will ask questions to help calculate your total income, tax deductions, and credits.
  • Review the entire return and make sure you understand everything about your return before signing. You are responsible for your taxes, even if a tax preparer works on your return.
  • Be sure any refund goes directly to your bank account using direct deposit. Confirm your routing and account numbers on the return are correct. If the SCDOR is unable to direct deposit your refund because of invalid account numbers, you will not be able to resubmit the correct information, and your refund will be sent as a paper check.
  • Ask for a copy of your return, and keep it for your records.
  • If you have to pay the SCDOR, please tell your preparer you want to do so electronically. Visit to pay what you owe quickly and easily.

How to report suspected tax fraud and identity theft
If you suspect tax fraud or identity theft, report it to the IRS and the SCDOR.

To the IRS:

  • Use Form 14157 to report any suspected tax fraud or abusive tax preparers.
  • Use Form 14157-A if you suspect a tax preparer filed or changed your return without your consent.
  • Use Form 14039 if you are an actual or potential victim of identity theft.

To the SCDOR:

  • Use CID-27 to report suspected tax fraud.
  • Use I-381 to report if you are an actual or potential victim of identity theft.

Remember – 2023 returns are due April 15, 2024.