IRS warns of ‘dirty dozen’ scams targeting tax payers
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - As tax day nears, the IRS is warning of several scams targeting taxpayers. The agency’s annual ‘dirty dozen’ list includes schemes involving false tax forms, shady tax preparers, and texting scams that could lead to identity theft.
Brian Watson, a Special Agent with IRS Criminal Investigation says there has been a significant increase in false tax information circulating on social media. “It’s encouraging people to use tax software to create a fake W-2 with a lot of income and a lot of tax withholding, and then you’re encouraged to take that W-2 to file a tax return and get a huge refund,” Watson said. “Well, that’s tax fraud. Don’t take the bait. Don’t take tax advice from social media.”
According to the IRS, shady tax preparers are also a risk to taxpayers. “They’ll base their fee on a percentage of your refund. You don’t want to do that because that’s a built-in incentive to pad the return,” Watson said. “We see them promising huge refunds and they haven’t even seen your information.” Other red flags include the tax preparer refusing to sign the return, or asking the taxpayer to sign a blank return. “A good preparer will go through that return with you line by line and they’ll put their name on it and they’ll put their preparer tax identification number, as required by law. If they don’t, we call those ‘ghost preparers’ because they just disappear when tax season is over.”
Taxpayers should also beware of scammers offering “assistance” to set up an online account with the IRS. “An online account exists. It’s a very useful tool for taxpayers to have, but you can do it yourself at home. It doesn’t cost any money,” Watson cautioned. “The scammers are trying to get you to sign up. They’re just going to take your personal information, use it to open up credit cards, maybe identity theft. They may even sell your information to someone else, so if you get an email or text message about an IRS online account, delete it.”
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