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Twenty tax preparers, including nine in Baltimore, blocked for questionable returns

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot has stopped processing tax returns from 20 paid tax preparers who he says have filed a high volume of questionable returns.

A full list of the 20 tax preparers, including nine in Baltimore, is available at www.marylandtaxes.com.

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The announcement Thursday is part of a broader effort by the comptroller's office to crack down on tax fraud. Franchot is pushing for legislation that would give the comptroller's office greater authority to prepare cases against people found to have filed fraudulent tax returns.

Along with Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, Franchot announced charges in January against four tax preparers who had filed fraudulent returns worth more than $153,000.

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Last year, Franchot suspended 68 tax preparers.

Suspended tax preparers can regain their filing privileges through the agency's review process, but to date, none has, according to the comptroller's office.

Franchot encouraged taxpayers to carefully review their returns for red flags among preparers, such as deducting fees from the refund that will be deposited in the tax preparer's account, not signing the tax return and failing to include a Preparer Taxpayer Identification number, or P-TIN.

Anyone who suspects fraud should contact the comptroller's office by calling 1-800-MD-TAXES or by emailing TAXHELP@comp.state.md.us.

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