If you own a business, you’re about two weeks away from having to file your taxes. Individual taxes are due in about six weeks. So now, the government says this is the time of year to be on the lookout for potential con artists trying to scam you out of your financial information. Think you can’t be the victim of a scam? Well, you can become one.
The IRS says millions of people are victimized every year. That’s why the IRS has put out a warning to taxpayers and a list of what it calls the 2015 “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams of the season. Here is a recap of the top six from irs.gov:
1. Phone Scams: (IR-2015-5) Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remains an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent months as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.
2. Phishing: (IR-2015-6) Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise. Taxpayers should be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information.
3. Identity Theft: (IR-2015-7) Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft, especially around tax time. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number. The IRS is making progress on this front but taxpayers still need to be extremely careful and do everything they can to avoid becoming a victim.
4. Return Preparer Fraud: (IR-2015-8) Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. Return preparers are a vital part of the U.S. tax system. About 60 percent of taxpayers use tax professionals to prepare their returns.
5. Offshore Tax Avoidance: (IR-2015-9) The recent string of successful enforcement actions against offshore tax cheats and the financial organizations that help them shows that it’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. Taxpayers are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting their taxes and filing requirements in order. The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to help people get their taxes in order.
6. Inflated Refund Claims: (IR-2015-12) Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via community groups and churches in seeking victims.
These are just the top six of the 12 “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams. Next week, I will discuss the rest of the list. In the meantime, if you want more information about tax scams, check out irs.gov or the agency’s social media sites including You Tube and Tumblr.
Don’t forget business owners, file your taxes soon! If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me or anyone of the Brigade Bookkeeping team.
Have a great week everyone!