Every spring, the IRS releases its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. The goal of the list is to make taxpayers aware of pervasive tax scams and schemes and to use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues. Educate your clients about these tips below and be prepared that you might have clients who fall victim to these scams. These are things you can support them in solving. Share these scams on on your website, blog, in emails, on social media – however you are communicating and connecting with your target market. As a tax resolution professional, I cannot tell you enough:
education is EVERYTHING!
This year’s scams run the gamut from identity theft and “phishing” to abusive tax structures. In the announcement, the IRS also wants taxpayers to know that they are taking illegal scams very seriously. Knowingly participating in these activities can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution.
The following are the IRS “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2014:
1) Identity Theft
Topping the list is identity theft; a major issue for the IRS. Criminals use taxpayer’s personal information such as their name, Social Security number (SSN) to commit tax fraud like using a taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.
The IRS wants consumers to know it has created a special identity theft section on IRS.gov. IMPORTANT NOTE: Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should contact the IRS immediately to have their tax account secured. Taxpayers can call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 or get additional information online: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection
2) Pervasive Phone Scams
The IRS has seen a recent increase in phone scams across the country as a means of stealing money or identities from victims. Callers intimidate taxpayers by pretending to be from the IRS stating that the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund. Some callers threaten taxpayers with arrest or driver’s license revocation often with follow-up calls from people claiming they are from the local police department or state motor vehicle department. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. DO NOT give personal information to anyone over the phone. The IRS instead suggests taxpayers who receive these calls to go to the IRS.gov website immediately to get contact information.
Phishing is a scam generally an unsolicited email or a fake website that appears to be legitimate that first lures in potential victims then prompts them into divulging their personal and financial information. Criminals then use this information to commit crimes. Be advised: The IRS will NEVER ask for personal or financial information via email.
4) False Promises of Free Money
Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and even word of mouth to lure victims by promising large federal tax refunds or refunds. These scams often prey on people low-income individuals or the elderly. They also prey on non-English speakers, who may or may not have a filing requirement.
5) Return Preparer Fraud
Some unscrupulous tax preparers prey on unsuspecting taxpayers, engaging in refund fraud or identity theft. Be careful whom you choose to prepare your taxes. The IRS reminds taxpayers to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare your tax return. Also to make sure the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs).
6) Hiding Income Offshore
While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements that need to be fulfilled. U.S. taxpayers who maintain offshore accounts are required by law to report this income or risk significant penalties and fines, and the possibility of criminal prosecution.
7) Impersonation of Charitable Organizations
Sadly, natural disasters bring out scam artists who impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers or disaster victims either claiming they work for bogus charities or on behalf of the IRS to help the victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds. The scammers then solicit money or financial information from unwitting victims.
8) False or Inflated Income Expenses
Providing false income information on your tax return to gain a larger refund or receive a tax credit will cause more harm than good. The IRS has honed in on this abuse and will require full repayment of the erroneous refunds plus interest and penalties, and possible prosecution.
9) Frivolous Arguments
Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make wild and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. These promoters often find themselves in court or in jail. Those who support these promoters may also face criminal prosecution for attempting to evade or defeat tax.
10) Falsely Claiming Zero Wages or Using False Form 1099
Chances are the IRS will examine a return claiming zero wages. Also, fraudulently using Form 1099 to claim a refund, can result in financial penalties or even criminal prosecution.
11) Abusive Tax Structures
The IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) has developed a nationally coordinated program that is cracking down on business entities or corporations whose purpose is to take advantage of some financial secrecy laws and the availability of credit/debit cards issued from offshore financial institutions to evade taxes.
12) Misuse of Trusts
Unscrupulous tax scam promoters urge taxpayers to transfer large amounts of assets into trusts as a way to avoid estate transfer taxes. While these transactions rarely deliver the promised benefits promised, the IRS reminds taxpayers that participating in this type of scam could bring on serious legal issues.
The bottom line:
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Taxpayers need to stay alert and do their best to prevent scams and schemes at all costs. Remember: the IRS holds the taxpayer responsible for the information provided on a return and will come after the taxpayer for payment. No matter what.
Know your tax topics – these may end up being cases you can help them solve. If you are not on the IRS.gov newsletter, sign up for their IRS tax tips immediately.
The more you know AND SHARE with your target customers, the better your awareness, connection, service and SALES will be.
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