For many people, filing their taxes can be a stressful experience. In addition to making sure you fill out all your forms correctly, you also have to be on the lookout for people who take advantage of tax season as a chance to pull off various scams. People who file their taxes online need to be especially careful. Here are a few of the major tax-related scams to watch out for this year.
Fraudulent Tax Preparers
If you use a professional tax preparer to file your taxes, make sure the person or company is reputable. While most tax preparers are honest, there are also scammers who pose as tax preparers to steal refunds or pull off other scams. Make sure the tax preparer you use has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). This number must be included on your return. In general, you should be wary of any tax preparer who promises you a refund that is higher than normal or who asks for a percentage of your refund for payment.
Promises of Large Refunds or Tax Avoidance Schemes
Some scammers place ads online or offline promising to deliver large refunds. While legitimate tax preparers often advertise that they will get you the maximum refund possible, a scammer will tend to promise refunds that are unusually high. There are also various scammers who claim they have secrets that allow you to legally avoid paying taxes. Any claim involving taxes that sounds too good to be true is most likely a scam.
Some identity thieves send emails that pretend to be from the IRS. These emails may say that the IRS has received more than one return from you or that they require more information from you. The IRS does not request information from taxpayers via email, so you can be sure that any such communication is fraudulent.
The same goes for emails purporting to be from any state government or agency. If you are in doubt about the origin of an email, make note of who is supposedly sending it and contact the agency independently by phone. Never download any attachments from such emails.
How to Safely File Your Taxes
You can avoid tax filing scams by following a few simple rules:
• Only use licensed tax preparation services that can supply a genuine PTIN number.
• Don’t respond to emails claiming to be from the IRS or any government agency.
• Don’t believe claims that promise huge refunds or ways to avoid paying taxes.
• Don’t reveal confidential information unless you are sure that you are dealing with a trustworthy source.
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