It’s bad enough to find yourself embroiled in a controversy with the IRS. The last thing you should have to worry about is someone taking advantage of your need or situation, but each year, innocent taxpayers like you fall victim to scams.
In response, the agency issues a list of what it calls the “Dirty Dozen” each year to warn taxpayers about scams others have come across. It does this in part to protect people, but also to remind them that they remain responsible for their tax obligations despite these cons.
What types of scams are out there?
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you need to watch out for the following tax-related scams:
- If someone proposes a tax shelter to you that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- The IRS does not use email or websites to communicate with taxpayers. If you receive an email and/or link to a website demanding personal information, don’t respond because it’s probably a phishing scam.
- If someone encourages you to make seemingly outlandish or unreasonable claims regarding the payment of your taxes, it’s probably a scam. The most popular one involves the legality of paying taxes.
- If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent demanding money or personal information, hang up. The IRS doesn’t work this way.
- Attempting to avoid paying your taxes by moving your money offshore probably won’t work. Don’t believe someone who says his or her plan is foolproof.
- Identity theft is always a risk. Some criminals will use your information to file a false tax return in order to obtain refund money.
- If you have a business, make sure that you are only claiming credits for which you are qualified. For example, few people would qualify for the fuel tax credit, and claiming it will probably attract the IRS’s attention.
- Not all tax preparers are on the up-and-up. Fraudsters will take your money and leave you with a mess of trouble with the IRS.
- Not all charities are real. Make sure you do your homework before making donations that you intend to claim on your tax returns.
- If someone promises to get you a large refund even when a legitimate tax preparer gave you a much lower number, it’s probably a scam. In the end, you will end up paying the price for an inflated refund claim.
- Don’t listen to anyone who claims you can claim more in deductions and expenses than you know to be true. It will come back to haunt you.
- Some fraudsters encourage taxpayers to make untrue claims about their income in order to qualify for certain tax credits.
The more you know about the possible scams that someone could perpetrate on you, the less likely it is that you will end up in trouble with the IRS. However, if you do find yourself paying the price for someone else’s fraudulent scheme, you may need a legal advocate on your side to help you resolve the issue.