Northeast Times

IRS discusses the ‘Dirty Dozen’ tax scams and how to avoid being conned

Have you been think­ing about taxes? Not likely! 

But there are scam­mers who are think­ing about taxes and ways to dupe you out of your money, ac­cord­ing to the In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice.

Tax scams can hap­pen any­time of the year, not just dur­ing tax sea­son. Three com­mon year-round scams are iden­tity theft, phish­ing and re­turn pre­parer fraud. These schemes are on the top of the IRS’s “Dirty Dozen” list of scams this year. They’re il­leg­al and can lead to sig­ni­fic­ant pen­al­ties and in­terest, even crim­in­al pro­sec­u­tion. Here’s more in­form­a­tion about these scams that every tax­pay­er should know:

Tax fraud by iden­tity theft tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list. Iden­tity thieves use per­son­al in­form­a­tion, such as your name, So­cial Se­cur­ity num­ber or oth­er identi­fy­ing in­form­a­tion without your per­mis­sion to com­mit fraud or oth­er crimes. An iden­tity thief may also use an­oth­er per­son’s iden­tity to fraud­u­lently file a tax re­turn and claim a re­fund.

The IRS has a spe­cial iden­tity pro­tec­tion page on IRS.gov ded­ic­ated to iden­tity theft is­sues. It has help­ful links to in­form­a­tion, such as how vic­tims can con­tact the IRS Iden­tity Theft Pro­tec­tion Spe­cial­ized Unit, and how you can pro­tect your­self against iden­tity theft.

•  Scam artists use phish­ing to trick un­sus­pect­ing vic­tims in­to re­veal­ing per­son­al or fin­an­cial in­form­a­tion. Phish­ing scam­mers may pose as the IRS and send bogus emails, set up phony web­sites or make phone calls. These con­tacts usu­ally of­fer a fic­ti­tious re­fund or threaten an audit or in­vest­ig­a­tion to lure vic­tims in­to re­veal­ing per­son­al in­form­a­tion. The IRS does not ini­ti­ate con­tact with tax­pay­ers by email to re­quest per­son­al or fin­an­cial in­form­a­tion. For­ward sus­pi­cious scams to the IRS at phish­ing@irs.gov. You can also vis­it IRS.gov and se­lect the link “Re­port­ing Phish­ing” at the bot­tom of the page.

Most tax pro­fes­sion­als file hon­est and ac­cur­ate re­turns for their cli­ents. However, some dis­hon­est tax re­turn pre­parers skim a por­tion of the cli­ent’s re­fund or charge in­flated fees for tax pre­par­a­tion. Choose care­fully when hir­ing an in­di­vidu­al or firm to pre­pare your re­turn. All paid tax pre­parers must sign the re­turn they pre­pare and enter their IRS Pre­parer Tax Iden­ti­fic­a­tion Num­ber. The IRS cre­ated a webpage to as­sist tax­pay­ers when choos­ing a tax pre­parer. It in­cludes red flags to look for and in­form­a­tion on how and when to make a com­plaint. Vis­it www.irs.gov/chooseataxpro.

For the full list of 2013 Dirty Dozen tax scams, or to find out how to re­port sus­pec­ted tax fraud, vis­it IRS.gov ••

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