Taxpayer asks:

Dear Taxgirl:

An enrolled agent has had my tax papers for over a year and a half. She does not return my calls. California is now coming after me for 2015 and 2016 taxes. I would like to pay these back taxes but don’t know what to do since she has all of my paperwork. I left a message saying that the California franchise tax board has taken money from my account and that this needs to be taken care of and she still will not return my call. They have returned most of my money for the time being but said I only until the beginning of November to file. What can I do?

Taxgirl says:

You are entitled to a copy of your return, and to the return of your documents.

I would make one more effort to get your documents back by writing a letter. Send it by certified mail, so that you have proof of delivery. Give your preparer the opportunity to make it right in the event that there’s some kind of misunderstanding.

If you still don’t get results, you can report the preparer to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To make a report, fill out federal form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer (downloads as a PDF).

The form starts out at Section A by asking you some questions about your tax preparer. In your case, you’ll want to select Enrolled Agent (EA). As noted in the instructions, an Enrolled Agent status is granted solely by the IRS upon the individual’s demonstration of special competence in tax matters, by written examination, and passing suitability requirements.

Complete as much of the rest of Section A as you can, including contact information. You should be able to find the Preparer Tax Identification Number on a copy of your tax return.

You’ll explain the bad stuff at Section B. Based on what you’ve said so far, you’ll want to tick the “Preparer Misconduct” box.

On the next page, you’ll spell out as many details as you can provide. I suggest outlining your case in chronological order: be as specific as you can with respect to dates that you contacted the preparer. Use more paper if you need more space.

Fill out the rest of the form with your contact information and sign where indicated.

You’ll want to send the form together with all supporting documentation to the IRS by fax or mail:

  • If by fax, 855-889-7957
  • If by mail, Attn: Return Preparer Office, 401, W. Peachtree Street NW, Mail Stop 421-D, Atlanta, GA 30308

Depending on the tax preparer’s credentials, you may also want to report him or her to their professional licensing and/or disciplinary boards. Because EAs are federally-licensed, there is no mechanism (or need) to report them to a state accountancy board or state bar association. The form 14157 is sufficient.

One more quick note: I would let the tax authorities know that you’ve still been unable to get your documents back and that you have filed a complaint. They might grant you more time or reduce any related penalties.

I’d also consider getting a new preparer to help you file the returns. I know that you don’t have your original documents, but you may be able to retrieve documents you need by checking with your employer and financial institutions. You can also try retrieving them from the IRS via the online transcript service.

Before you go: be sure to read my disclaimer. Remember, I’m a lawyer and we love disclaimers.

If you have a question, here’s how to “ask the taxgirl.”

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Author

Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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