We're starting up a new weekly feature on-air and online, called "Legally Speaking" with Michelle Suskauer, a Board Certified criminal trial attorney for well over 20 years and a past president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association. 

You'll hear this on The Morning Rush each Friday morning and get more information and audio here on WJNO.com.

A timely topic this week, what you need to know if you're paying someone to file your taxes.  Michelle tells me cases of tax preparer fraud have been up lately.

"When you use somebody to file your tax returns, you really have to be wary, because there are some folks who are going to make some promises, 'We're going to get you more money back than anyone else.'  You really have to be wary of that because if it sounds too good to be true, it really is."

Things to avoid:

Some people want to take shortcuts and trust people to do their taxes whom they haven't checked out thoroughly.  Michelle says tax preparer fraud is rampant in our area and if that preparer does things like create false deductions or inflating your business expenses.  You may not even know it was done, but if the I.R.S. detects it, you're the one who will be in trouble. 

"It really is easy to fall into traps, especially when you want as much money back from the government as you can possible get, and you will be on the line for additional taxes, for interest.  You could be subject to penalties, even criminal prosecution."

Red Flags include:

A preparer asking you to sign a blank return or not providing you with a copy of your return if you ask, which Michelle says you should.


You can reach Michelle Suskauer at SuskauerLaw.com and follow her on Twitter @criminalDfense.

Michelle Suskauer is a Florida Bar Board Certified criminal trial attorney, practicing for over 22 years with the Suskauer Law Firm.

She is a past President of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, Palm Beach County Chapter and is currently on the Florida Bar Board of Governors, Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Trend's Legal Elite and Florida Super Lawyer.

You may have also seen Michelle on our NewsChannel 5 partners, as she is their legal analyst.  She also appears as a legal expert on several national cable networks including Fox News, CNN and NBC. 

Photo courtesy of Michelle Suskauer