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Each year, people fall prey to tax scams . That's why the IRS sends a list of its annual "Dirty Dozen. " Stay safe and informed - don't become a victim.
Identity theft. Identity theft, especially around tax time, is at the top of the "Dirty Dozen" list. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals who file fraudulent returns using someone else's Social Security number. The IRS is making progress on this front. Awareness is key to avoid becoming a victim.
Telephone scams. Threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat . The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years, as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation, license revocation and more. These con artists often demand payment of back taxes on a prepaid debit card or by immediate wire transfer. Be alert to con artists impersonating IRS agents and demanding payment.
Phishing. Typically use unsolicited emails or fake websites that appear legitimate but are attempting to steal your personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or tax refund out of the blue. Don't click on strange emails and websites.
Return Preparer Fraud About 60 percent of taxpayers use tax professionals to prepare their returns. While most tax professionals provide honest , high-quality service, there are some dishonest ones who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams . Be on the lookout for unscrupulous tax return preparers. Choose your preparer wisely.
Offshore Tax Avoidance. Hiding money and income offshore is a bad b et. If you have money in offshore banks, it's best to contact the IRS to get your taxes in order. The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program to help you do that .
Inflated Refund Claims. Be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated tax refund s. Also be wary of anyone who asks you to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at your tax records or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund . Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via trusted community groups to find victims.
Fake Charities. Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. If you are making a charitable contribution, you should take a few extra minutes to ensure your hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS . gov has the tools you need to check out the status of charitable organizations. Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations.
Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns. Don't give in to the temptation to inflate deductions or expenses on your tax ret urn. Think twice before overstating deductions such as charitable contributions, inflating claimed business expenses or including credits that you are not entitled to receive, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. Complete an accurate return.