Now that it is tax season, many of us are concerned with and thinking about preparing our taxes, getting our refunds, etc. Hopefully we do not owe anything, but if we have to pay, we’re thinking about that also. What you don’t need are scams that are sometimes perpetuated on taxpayers. The IRS and I would like to make you aware of these different scams so that you can avoid them.
According to the IRS, there has been an increase in local phone scams across the country. What happens is you get a call from someone pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identity from victims.
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe taxes, and get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, never discuss your problem with that person. Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss your problem.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think you owe taxes, and get a call from someone claiming to be IRS, do not discuss the issue with that person. Call and report the incident immediately to the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration at 1-800-366-4484.
Phishing scams typically use unsolicited e-mails or fake websites that appear legitimate to lure victims and prompt them to provide their personal and financial information, either by e-mail or by mail. I personally have received some emails and mail with a logo that’s almost exactly like the U.S. Treasury logo. The fact is the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by e-mail to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communications such as text messages and social media channels.
If you are ever contacted initially by someone at the IRS or claiming to be from the IRS by e-mail, text message or through social media, do not respond. If you feel ill at ease or are afraid you might owe taxes, call the IRS yourself at 1-800-829-1040.
Another scam, usually perpetuated by certain tax preparers, falsely promises free money from inflated refunds. Scammers will often pose as tax preparers during tax time, set up small sidewalk shops, and lure victims in by promising large tax refunds. This is very attractive to people especially if they’re currently going through hard times. Many people are sucked in by these scams because, “The preparer is telling me I can get this money. He or she must be right.”
Understand that the penalties for filing false returns are very severe. The IRS has the right to go after the preparer for the preparer penalties, but the preparer will never be responsible for the tax you owed or any interest you owe on that tax. Bottom line is ultimately, you are legally responsible for what’s on your tax return even if someone else prepares it. Take care when choosing someone to do your taxes.
I hope that none of you will ever be contacted in any of these ways, but if you are, please be aware that they are all scams. If you are not sure what to do, call my office at 914-682-7007. I will be happy to help you decide what steps to take next.