Filing taxes can be a complicated and confusing process. Because of that there area myriad of scam artists and criminals willing and ready to take advantage of people when it comes time to file taxes every year. If there’s a dollar to be made, they’ll be there trying to take it from you.
Because there are so many fraudulent or unethical programs out there trying to take your money from you (willingly or unwillingly), it’s important to make sure that you use someone you trust in order to help you with your taxes.
For our household that means using one of the tax software to help us file. For others that may mean using a CPA or other tax professional. Still others will use a retail tax filing location. What it comes down to, however, is to make sure that you’re educated about the tax scams and outright fraud that is being perpetrated out there, and make sure to avoid people and places that will perpetrate that fraud on you.
Tax Filing Scams To Be Aware Of
The IRS puts out warnings annually of tax scams and programs to be wary of. This year they’ve seen one particular credit being claimed fraudulently and being pushed by certain scam artists.
The Internal Revenue Service today warned senior citizens and other taxpayers to beware of an emerging scheme tempting them to file tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds.
The scheme carries a common theme of promising refunds to people who have little or no income and normally don’t have a tax filing requirement. Under the scheme, promoters claim they can obtain for their victims, often senior citizens, a tax refund or nonexistent stimulus payment based on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, even if the victim was not enrolled in or paying for college.
So the scammers will tell people to basically fraudulently claim a tax credit for which they’re not eligible, often then charging a big upfront fee for the service.
Some other things the IRS says to beware of when getting filing advice, and that should throw up red flags.
- Fictitious claims for refunds or rebates based on false statements of entitlement to tax credits.
- Unfamiliar for-profit tax services selling refund and credit schemes to the membership of local churches.
- Internet solicitations that direct individuals to toll-free numbers and then solicit social security numbers.
- Homemade flyers and brochures implying credits or refunds are available without proof of eligibility.
- Offers of free money with no documentation required.
- Promises of refunds for “Low Income – No Documents Tax Returns.”
- Claims for the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or for economic stimulus payments.
- Unsolicited offers to prepare a return and split the refund.
- Unfamiliar return preparation firms soliciting business from cities outside of the normal business or commuting area.
For me the key is this: If a tax credit or promise of a refund sounds too good, it probably is.
Your best bet is probably to stick with a company or CPA that you trust, have them explain your return to you, and explain why you’re getting certain credits and deductions.
If something sounds fishy, double check it on your own, or call the IRS to verify.
Peter S says
I try to get my taxes out of the way as soon as possible, though if I owe a lot of money, I’ll push it into April. I haven’t waited until the last minute, but definitely came close. I think I sent mine on the 14th to avoid the rush on the 15th the couple of years I owed a bunch of money. Of course, I also had to save that money first – our company had not taken the correct tax amount out of the bonuses they paid, resulting in the employees owning a lot of money.
Mary Happymommy says
I do my taxes as soon as I receive all the tax documents.
I owe the state of CT some money this year, so I’m waiting til the last minute to file! It doesn’t matter a whole lot for me, but I’m just not excited to do it like I would be for a refund!
courtney b says
i wait till the last minute
Definitely the last minute to pay.
I try to get mine out of the way as soon as possible.
Doug Ankele says
About a month before the deadline.
Brad Haven says
I pay my taxes quarterly try and get the return done by the end of March and be done with it all by April 1.
I think if everyone had to pay quarterly, mailing a check into the IRS, the tea party would be much bigger and the government would be a lot smaller!
Peter Anderson says
Agreed on that point. Paying quarterly estimated taxes has opened my eyes to just how much we’re paying throughout the year.. It’s the whole frog in boiling water story, where we don’t perceive just how much we’re paying because it’s slowly spaced out throughout the year normally.
Henria O. says
I don’t wait until the very last minute but I come pretty close to it! :)
I usually have them done by now!
Try to keep up to date,and get it out of the way as quick as i can.
I do my taxes as soon as I have all the statements and information. The sooner the better.
I pay our taxes as soon as all the W-2s come in from my two jobs and our income is verified from our home-based business.
I do our taxes as soon as we get all the forms in. Why wait?
We pay our taxes as soon as possible!
Jill H says
I wait till the last minute. I’d rather use my money than let the government use it.
I usually file early in February but this year, I am running a bit late.
Mary M. says
We pay our taxes by April 15th each year … it’s no use dragging out the inevitable by filing an extension.
Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer says
We always wait last minute; no reason to do it sooner since we’re not getting a refund (or not much anyway).
I pay mine right away!
Patrick K says
I generally get ours done on the earlier side, but still need to do it!
We usually pay around the beginning of April. We tend to owe with me being self employed and that is no fun.