The year is almost over, which means many of us will start preparing 2014 Income tax returns within a few weeks. This will also be a very busy time for the tax scammers, who usually try to file fraudulent returns on behalf of others before taxpayers submit their real documents. This is one of the reasons why it is important not to wait until April 15, but take care of your taxes as soon as possible.
US taxpayers will also most likely notice an increased number of other forms of tax scams. According to the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “these schemes jump every year at tax time”. Therefore, each year the IRS reminds US taxpayers about various types of scams.
Identity theft is one of the most popular methods used by criminals to obtain your personal information that can then be used to claim a tax refund on your behalf. Tax scammers usually acquire taxpayers’ names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security Numbers by sending out letters, emails, or making phone calls that appear to be from the IRS or from the taxpayer’s bank. There are also websites that look like sites created by the government, where people are asked to provide their personal and financial information.
However, not all tax criminals go through the hassle of preparing fraudulent tax returns to get money. Some of them call people pretending to be the IRS collection agents or Revenue Officers and make threats to arrest the taxpayer if he or she doesn’t immediately make a payment towards a tax debt over the phone, by putting money on a pre-paid debit card, or by wire transfer. It is difficult to give good advice that would be applicable to every possible tax scam situation. However, the general rule is not to engage in any of these conversations, but instead call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and find out whether or not there is a problem with your taxes, and to obtain contact information for the IRS office that is handling your case.
Another tax scam scheme, which has already created tax problems for many US taxpayers, includes offers of large tax refunds made by tax preparers before they even have a chance to review the taxpayer’s financial documents. Scam artists may either charge you in advance for preparing a return that will illegally claim a huge refund, or request a portion of this refund to be transferred to a bank account of their choice as a payment for their tax return preparation service. The IRS urges all US taxpayers to hire only those tax preparers who have a legal PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) and good records. The IRS website has all necessary information that can be used by taxpayers who are looking for a professional tax preparer.
Although the IRS Criminal Department and the US Department of Justice are trying to do their best to eliminate tax scams, the problem still exists. Therefore, it is imperative to protect your personal information, to carefully choose your tax preparer, and to file returns on time.