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Avoiding Tax Scams & Other Tax Tips

avoiding tax scams and tipsTax season is underway, and it’s time to file those 2017 taxes. If this is your first time filing or you just need some reminders, there are a few tax tips we can offer. Additionally, it’s also tax scam season. Therefore, we (with the help of the IRS) will cover a few pointers for filing taxes as well as avoiding tax scams.

Easy Tax Tips to Help You File in 2017

It’s one thing to file taxes every year; it’s another to have to refile or make changes once you submit. That’s why the first tip is to make sure you have all your documents. This may include W-2 forms, 1099’s, interest from savings accounts, dividends earned, student loan interest paid, home or business deductions, not to mention local and state taxes.

The next tip is get help if you feel overwhelmed. Conduct some Google searches to find the solution or reach out to a professional to prepare them for you. Try to do them yourself the following year. This is especially true if you have moved across states, switched jobs or done another major financial change.

Now, here are some notes from the experts at the IRS:

  • “Taxes are due on Tuesday, April 17, 2018
  • Choosing e-file and direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.
  • Families with incomes of $66,000 or less can file for free. They can do so using brand name software through the IRS Free File program. People who earned more than $66,000 may use Free File Fillable Forms.
  • Taxpayers with low and moderate incomes can get help filing their taxes for free. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs have more than 12,000 sites around the country. To find the nearest site, use the VITA/TCE Site Locator on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app.”

Tips for Avoiding Tax Scams

Unfortunately, there are always a variety of new and old tax scams to watch. Fraudsters will go to many lengths to pull off their scams. They can use convincing e-mails, threatening phone calls and other serious phishing schemes.

The IRS does not do the following:

  • “Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
  • If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will always provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. HSPD-12 is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to see these credentials. And if you would like to verify information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card, the representative will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.”

For more information, visit Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.

ABOUT AUTHOR / Michelle

Michelle is a regular contributor to Talking Cents. She has taken several financial courses on debt management and is ready to circulate what she has learned from them as well as lessons from her own life- family to DIY projects to student loan debt.

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