With tax season now in full swing, IRS employees and tax professionals are not the only people working overtime. This time of year is an especially busy time for tax scam artists, who seemingly make a comfortable living by defrauding the government and taxpayers.
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service releases a list of the most common or serious tax scam threats currently in use. This year's "Dirty Dozen" tax scams list was just released, and most of the scams and tax crimes are nothing new.
Some have to do with criminals trying to scam or defraud taxpayers. They include:
- Phone scams involving threatening calls from people pretending to be IRS agents and claiming that the person they called owes money
- Phishing scams where virus-laden emails are sent from fake accounts that look to be from the IRS or other reputable organizations
- Solicitations for tax-deductible donations from fake charities
- Fraud committed by paid tax preparers, especially those who promise "big returns" before even looking at a client's tax documents
Additionally, the IRS is warning against the use of fraud and "creative accounting" to reduce one's own tax liabilities. This includes the use of:
- Offshore bank accounts that are not disclosed
- Fake documents to inflate a return or reduce taxes owed
- Abusive tax shelters
- Misreported income to take advantage of unearned income credits
Remember that whether you prepare your own tax return or hire someone to do it, you are ultimately responsible for what's in it (unless you were a victim of identity theft and someone else filed a return without your knowledge - this should be reported right away).
With all the tax scams and complicated liabilities you might be facing this tax season, you may find it helpful to work with an experienced tax law professional.
Source: MySuncoast.com, "IRS unveils its 'Dirty Dozen' tax scams for 2015," Feb. 9, 2015