Personal Finance

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Look Out For These Top Tax Scams When Filing Your Taxes

Each year the IRS produces a list of Top Tax Scams. Since many of these con games peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns or hire someone to do so, it’s a good time to become aware of common scams and how to protect yourself.


Here is a recap of this year’s Top Tax Scams from the IRS:

Identity Theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number. Though the agency is making progress on this front, taxpayers still need to be extremely careful and do everything they can to avoid being victimized.

Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation, and license revocation, among other things.

Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never send taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of strange emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.

Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft, and other scams that hurt taxpayers. Legitimate tax professionals are a vital part of the U.S. tax system.

Offshore Tax Avoidance: The recent string of successful enforcement actions against offshore tax cheats and the financial organizations that help them shows that it’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. Taxpayers are best served by coming in voluntarily, and getting caught up on their taxfiling responsibilities. The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to enable people to catch up on their filing and tax obligations.

Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Be wary of anyone who asks taxpayers to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at their records, or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts, and word of mouth via community groups —where trust is high—to find victims.

Fake Charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.

Source: IRS

Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube at www.youtube.com/irsvideos, and Tumblr at internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com, where people can search the term “scam” to find all the scam-related posts. Source: IRS.gov

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