Be on alert for the IRS’s list of the ‘dirty dozen’ tax scams
“Nobody is immune to scams,” said Lucilia Prates, statewide director of Senior Medicare Patrol, a Lawrence-based nonprofit that counsels seniors. “Everyone is vulnerable.”
Here are the IRS’s “dirty dozen” scams you should know about:
Unscrupulous tax return preparers
Watch out for any preparers who won’t sign your tax return, known as “ghost preparers.” They may expose you to serious filing mistakes as well as possible tax fraud and loss of your refund.
Unscrupulous preparers may promise inflated refunds by claiming fake tax credits. Avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank return, promise a big refund upfront, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund.
The IRS has a searchable listing of preparers who are currently recognized by the IRS. You can also do a background check on a preparer by looking online for reviews. The Better Business Bureau may be a good place to start.
Resolving tax debt
If you owe back taxes, be wary of any company making promises about getting it resolved. These companies may exaggerate their ability to settle tax debts, while charging pricey fees to submit an application to the IRS for relief. The IRS accepts very few of these cases (known as its “offer in compromise” program).
Prates said consumers should be similarly on guard when callers offer to reduce their credit card debt.
If you owe taxes, you can use an IRS online tool to see if you pre-qualify for the offer in compromise program.
Fake payments with repayment…