Thumbs Down: Tax Test Failure

Physician's Money Digest, April15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 7

The result:

If a doctor didn't pass their medicalboard exams, they wouldn't be ableto practice medicine, right? Apparently,tax preparers are held to amuch lower standard. To test theknowledge of the employees at severalIRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers,auditors disguised as taxpayers approachedthese employees for help inpreparing their returns. Most of the returns were improperlyprepared and the mistakes madewould have resulted in $32,000 ofincorrect refunds. According to areport by the inspector general's officeconcerning this covert testing, 83% ofthe tax returns prepared by the evaluatedemployees were incorrect. Also,72% of the taxpayers were not properlyinformed of tax return preparationrequirements before schedulingan appointment to prepare their taxreturns. Although the inspector generalrecommended that a new initiativefor quality control be enacted for the2004 tax season, physician-taxpayersshould be on guard when seekingadvice from one of the 400 taxpayer assistancecenters located throughoutthe United States.