Beware of Fake IRS Emails and Phone Calls

 

Tax scams that use email and phone calls that appear to come from the IRS are common these days. These scams often use the IRS name and logo or fake websites that look real.

Scammers often send an email or call to lure victims to give up their personal and financial information. The crooks then use this information to commit identity theft or steal your money. Some call their victims to demand payment on a pre-paid debit card or by wire transfer. But the IRS will not initiate contact with you to ask for this information by phone or email.

If you get this type of ‘phishing’ email, the IRS offers this advice:

  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. They may have malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Then delete it.

If you get an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Ask for a call back number and an employee badge number.
  • If you think you may owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you.
  • If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484 to report the incident.
  • You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission by using their “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.

Be alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS will not initiate contact with you through social media or text to ask for your personal or financial information.

More information on how to report phishing or phone scams is available on IRS.gov.


Additional IRS Resources:

Eight Tax Savers for Parents

 

Your children may help you qualify for valuable tax benefits. Here are eight tax benefits parents should look out for when filing their federal tax returns this year.

 

1. Dependents.  In most cases, you can claim your child as a dependent. This applies even if your child was born anytime in 2013. For more details can be found on our website under the General Tax Info tab .

2. Child Tax Credit.  You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for each of your qualifying children under the age of 17 at the end of 2013. The maximum credit is $1,000 per child. If you get less than the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit.

3. Child and Dependent Care Credit.  You may be able to claim this credit if you paid someone to care for one or more qualifying persons. Your dependent child or children under age 13 are among those who are qualified. You must have paid for care so you could work or look for work.

4. Earned Income Tax Credit.  If you worked but earned less than $51,567 last year, you may qualify for EITC. If you have three qualifying children, you may get up to $6,044 as EITC when you file and claim it on your tax return.

5. Adoption Credit.  You may be able to claim a tax credit for certain expenses you paid to adopt a child.

6. Higher education credits.  If you paid for higher education for yourself or an immediate family member, you may qualify for either of two education tax credits. Both the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit may reduce the amount of tax you owe. If the American Opportunity Credit is more than the tax you owe, you could be eligible for a refund of up to $1,000.

7. Student loan interest.  You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan, even if you don’t itemize deductions on your tax return.

8. Self-employed health insurance deduction.  If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid to cover your child under the Affordable Care Act. It applies to children under age 27 at the end of the year, even if not your dependent. 

Top Ten Tips to Help You Choose a Tax Preparer

 

Many people hire a professional when it’s time to file their tax return. If you pay someone to prepare your federal income tax return, the IRS urges you to choose that person wisely. Even if you don’t prepare your own return, you’re still legally responsible for what is on it.

 

Here are ten tips to keep in mind when choosing a tax preparer:

1. Check the preparer’s qualifications.  All paid tax preparers are required to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. In addition to making sure they have a PTIN, ask the preparer if they belong to a professional organization and attend continuing education classes. 

2. Check the preparer’s history.  Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has a questionable history. Check for disciplinary actions and for the status of their licenses. For certified public accountants, check with the state board of accountancy. For attorneys, check with the state bar association. For enrolled agents, check with the IRS Office of Enrollment.

3. Ask about service fees.  Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund or those who say they can get larger refunds than others can. Always make sure any refund due is sent to you or deposited into your bank account. Taxpayers should not deposit their refund into a preparer’s bank account.

4. Ask to e-file your return.  Make sure your preparer offers IRS e-file. Any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file the returns electronically. IRS has safely processed more than 1.2 billion e-filed tax returns.

5. Make sure the preparer is available.  Make sure you’ll be able to contact the tax preparer after you file your return - even after the April 15 due date. This may be helpful in the event questions come up about your tax return.

6. Provide records and receipts.  Good preparers will ask to see your records and receipts. They’ll ask you questions to determine your total income, deductions, tax credits and other items. Do not use a preparer who is willing to e-file your return using your last pay stub instead of your Form W-2. This is against IRS e-file rules.

7. Never sign a blank return.  Don’t use a tax preparer that asks you to sign a blank tax form.

8. Review your return before signing.  Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions if something is not clear. Make sure you’re comfortable with the accuracy of the return before you sign it.

9. Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN.  Paid preparers must sign returns and include their PTIN as required by law. The preparer must also give you a copy of the return.

10. Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS.  You can report abusive tax preparers and suspected tax fraud to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If you suspect a return preparer filed or changed the return without your consent, you should also file Form 14157-A, Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit. You can get these forms at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

 

 

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