By Gary Jenkins
BAPA Coordinator of School and Safety Programs
I’m sure all of us are welcoming the beginning of spring and the warm temperatures. We are also nearing the end of income tax season. Unlike the gleeful anticipation of spring, tax season is usually met with a certain level of anxiety, and this may be especially true with the changes to the tax laws. It is also the season for an increased threat of tax scams.
The IRS warns that tax scams never take a season off. Each year the IRS publishes what it terms its “Dirty Dozen,” the 12 most common tax scams for the year. The IRS chooses to highlight these scams to inform taxpayers, businesses and professional tax preparers of the threats.
The IRS begins publishing its Dirty Dozen in March and does so for 12 consecutive business days. The 2019 list has yet to be completed, but I thought it would be helpful to our community to list the 2018 IRS Dirty Dozen from IRS.gov:
Phishing: Taxpayers should watch for fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information.
Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers.
Identity Theft: Taxpayers should be alert to tactics aimed at stealing their identities.
Return Preparer Fraud: Most tax professionals provide honest, high quality service. However, there are some dishonest preparers who scam clients.
Fake Charities: Groups masquerading as charitable organizations solicit donations from unsuspecting contributors.
Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be wary of anyone promising inflated tax refunds.
Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Taxpayers should avoid improperly claiming the fuel tax credit.
Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns: Taxpayers should avoid the temptation to falsely inflate deductions or expenses on their tax returns.
Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Con artists may convince taxpayers to invent income to erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit.
Frivolous Tax Arguments: Some taxpayers use frivolous tax arguments to avoid paying tax.
Abusive Tax Shelters: Taxpayers who use abusive tax structures do so to avoid paying taxes.
Offshore Tax Avoidance: It’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore.
Several of the 2018 scams such as Phishing, Identity Theft, Phone Scams, and Return Preparer Fraud have made the list for 2019.
In addition to checking out this year’s Dirty Dozen, you can subscribe to IRS Tax Tips at IRS.gov. The IRS instructs taxpayers to call 800 366-4484 or contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or the Federal Trade Commission if you receive what you believe is as tax phone scam.