If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, it’s OK! You’ve still got time. But you may want to get yourself a bit more prepared than usual if you want to keep yourself safe from scammers this year.
Now in its third year, the Internal Revenue Service has released their “Dirty Dozen” tax scam list, detailing some of the worst offenders today. Luckily, the IRS and the Department of Justice have a close relationship with a mutual goal of taking down scammers, but that doesn’t mean these illegal practices aren’t happening.
Among the worst are phishing and phone scams. The IRS will never call or email you, so never open an email or answer a call that claims to be the IRS. Make sure that you immediately close any unfamiliar website asking for personal information — these scammers are looking to steal your personal information!
Around tax filing time, identity theft seems to grow even more. There are many instances when scammers are filing fraudulent returns, and they could be impersonating you! Make sure you are cautious and safe when you file, and make sure it’s with a preparer that you have researched and trust.
Don’t forget that fake charities still exist, and it’s not just during the holidays! Fraudulent organizations may make up names that sound like something you’ve donated to before. Make sure you know the exact name of the charitable organization you’ve donated to or plan to donate to. Who wants to give their money to scammers?
As you’re preparing to file, you may find some preparers that promise higher returns than others. If you’re expecting a return this year and you’re looking for more money, make sure you never sign a blank return. Even if you see an ad in a place you trust — a community center, a grocery store, or a religious center — do not believe everything you see.
Other “Dirty Dozen” scams include:
- Excessive Claims for Business Credits
- Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns
- Falsifying Income to Claim Credits
- Abusive Tax Shelters
- Frivolous Tax Arguments
- Offshore Tax Avoidance