As crunch time to tax day closes in, tax scams heat up. Don’t wait until the last minute to work on your taxes because rushing can lead to sloppy returns and a greater risk of falling victim to a scam. Tax scams take several shapes, ranging from promises of large tax refunds to identity theft. Here are three important guidelines to keep in mind:
- You are responsible and liable for the content of your tax return;
- Anyone who promises you a bigger refund without knowing your tax situation could be misleading you; and
- Never sign a tax return without looking it over to make sure it is accurate.
The IRS warns taxpayers to beware of these common scams:
- Preparer fraud: Dishonest tax return preparers can cause many headaches for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. Such preparers derive financial gain by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds and charging inflated fees for return preparation services. They attract new clients by promising large refunds. Choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No matter who prepares your tax return, you are ultimately responsible for its accuracy and for any tax bill that may arise due to a questionable claim.
- Identity theft: It pays to be choosy when it comes to disclosing personal information. Identity thieves have used stolen personal data to access financial accounts, run up charges on credit cards and apply for new loans. The IRS is aware of several identity theft scams involving taxes or scammers posing as the IRS itself. The IRS does not use e-mail to contact taxpayers about issues related to their accounts. If you have any doubt whether a contact from the IRS is authentic, call (800) 829-1040 to confirm it.
For more information about these and other tax scams, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov. Remember that for the genuine IRS website, be sure to use .gov. Don’t be confused by websites that end in .com, .net, .org or any designations other than .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental website is www.irs.gov.
Note: The information provided above is not intended as legal or tax advice. Consult a tax professional or the IRS with specific questions.
These tips are provided by Iowa State Bank in partnership with the Iowa Bankers Association. If you have specific questions about the use of credit, contact your local banker at Iowa State Bank. Iowa State Bank is an Equal Opportunity Lender. Member FDIC.