Yes, believe it or not, it is about to be tax season again. As we approach the end of another year, I thought it was important to remind people to be diligent with their tax returns. Do not allow a tax preparer to submit a tax return without your review. Remember, you either physically or electronically are signing the tax return under penalty of perjury. If there are any errors on the return, you will be held responsible for the errors so you want to ensure that everything has been prepared properly.
If you allow your tax return to be submitted without believing that every material representation is accurate, then you may have committed perjury. Therefore, do not trust a tax preparer to submit your tax return until you have had a chance to review the document and ask them questions about the return.
If someone commits tax perjury, it is a crime. To prove tax perjury, the government must prove an individual intended to violate the law by submitting a false return that was signed under penalty of perjury when one knew that there was a material mistake that they did not believe was true.
Head of Household Tax Status
As a former banker and now a bankruptcy attorney, I have reviewed many tax returns over the years. In reviewing tax returns, there is one major mistake that I often see tax preparers make that could impact the individual(s) negatively if the error is caught by the IRS. A tax preparer should not use a filing status of “head of household” when it does not apply to them. By using this wrong filing status, it will usually inflate a tax refund. A higher tax refund is not worth having to defend yourself against the IRS if they pursue a tax perjury case against you or having to just pay it back later when the error is found.
To help you understand the two main areas where head of household filing status is misused, you should know you cannot claim head of household if:
- you are married at the end of the tax year, regardless of whether you file joint or separate tax returns, or
- you are not married at the end of year and DID NOT pay half the cost of your household for keeping a qualified child or relative. For example, if you and your child have lived with your parents and your parents have paid the majority of household expenses for the year then you CANNOT claim head of household.
For this tax season, be proactive by making sure your tax preparer has not selected the head of household filing status, if it does not apply for you. If you find yourself owing the IRS and you don’t know where to turn, call your closest Bond & Botes office for a free consultation today, to find out how you may get rid of your tax debt.
Mary Pool is a shareholder of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Faulkner University’s Jones School of Law. She has represented thousands of clients over her more than 11 years working in the bankruptcy field. Read her full bio here.