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Tax tips from Nina Olson, America’s national taxpayer advocate

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jul 30, 2019
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

As the national taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson’s job is to serve as the voice of the taxpayer inside the IRS. She is retiring Wednesday after 18 years on the job, and the Treasury Department has yet to appoint her successor.

I interviewed her recently and asked her for five tax tips, just off the top of her head. Here’s what she came up with:

  1. Don’t select a preparer based on the size of the refund s/he says s/he can get you.
  2. If you use a preparer, make sure the preparer puts his or her name, address and preparer tax identification number on the return and gives you a copy.
  3. Don’t make important personal or business decisions solely for tax reasons, but it’s often wise to consider tax implications as one factor among several.
  4. Review your return before filing it to catch and correct transcription errors like incorrect Social Security Numbers or math errors.
  5. If you think you can cheat on your taxes, well, my 44 years of experience working with people and taxes is that when you’re at the lowest point of your life, the IRS will find you. Who needs that hanging over your head?

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