Tax Scams:Consumer Alerts

Tax Scams


An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country.


Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not.


These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers.


They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer.


If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.


In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.


Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.



Note that the IRS will never:


1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill;


2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe;


3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card;


4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or


5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

Six Tips on Who Should File a 2014 Tax Return Reply

Most people file their tax return because they have to, but even if you don’t, there are times when you should. You may be eligible for a tax refund and not know it. This year, there are a few new rules for some who must file. Here are six tax tips to help you find out if you should file a tax return:

1. General Filing Rules. Whether you need to file a tax return depends on a few factors. In most cases, the amount of your income, your filing status and your age determine if you must file a tax return. For example, if you’re single and 28 years old you must file if your income was at least $10,150. Other rules may apply if you’re self-employed or if you’re a dependent of another person. There are also other cases when you must file.

Determining Your Correct Filing Status Reply

It’s important to use the correct filing status when filing your income tax return. It can impact the tax benefits you receive, the amount of your standard deduction and the amount of taxes you pay. It may even impact whether you must file a federal income tax return.

Are you single, married or the head of your household? There are five filing statuses on a federal tax return. The most common are “Single,” “Married Filing Jointly” and “Head of Household.” The Head of Household status may be the one most often claimed in error.

The IRS offers these seven facts to help you choose the best filing status for you.

1. Marital Status. Your marital status on the last day of the year is your marital status for the entire year.

2. If You Have a Choice. If more than one filing status fits you, choose the one that allows you to pay the lowest taxes.

3. Single Filing Status. Single filing status generally applies if you are not married, divorced or legally separated according to state law.

4. Married Filing Jointly. A married couple may file a return together using the Married Filing Jointly status. If your spouse died during 2012, you usually may still file a joint return for that year.

5. Married Filing Separately. If a married couple decides to file their returns separately, each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.

6. Head of Household. The Head of Household status generally applies if you are not married and have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for yourself and a qualifying person.

7. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This status may apply if your spouse died during 2010 or 2011, you have a dependent child and you meet certain other conditions.

IRS e-file is the easiest way to file and will help you determine the correct filing status. If you file a paper return, the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov is a tool that will help you choose your filing status.

You can also find more helpful information in IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. This publication is available at IRS.gov or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Eight Tax Benefits for Parents Reply

Your children may help you qualify for valuable tax benefits, such as certain credits and deductions. If you are a parent, here are eight benefits you shouldn’t miss when filing taxes this year.

1. Dependents. In most cases, you can claim a child as a dependent even if your child was born anytime in 2012. For more information, see IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.

2. Child Tax Credit. You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit for each of your children that were under age 17 at the end of 2012. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. For more information, see the instructions for Schedule 8812, Child Tax Credit, and Publication 972, Child Tax Credit.

3. Child and Dependent Care Credit. You may be able to claim this credit if you paid someone to care for your child or children under age 13, so that you could work or look for work. See IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

4. Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. If you have qualifying children, you may get up to $5,891 dollars extra back when you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify. See Publication 596, Earned Income Tax Credit.

5. Adoption Credit. You may be able to take a tax credit for certain expenses you incurred to adopt a child. For details about this credit, see the instructions for IRS Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.

6. Higher education credits. If you paid higher education costs for yourself or another student who is an immediate family member, you may qualify for either the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Both credits may reduce the amount of tax you owe. If the American Opportunity Credit is more than the tax you owe, you could be eligible for a refund of up to $1,000. See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

7. Student loan interest. You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan, even if you do not itemize your deductions. For more information, see IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

8. Self-employed health insurance deduction – If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid to cover your child. It applies to children under age 27 at the end of the year, even if not your dependent. See IRS.gov/aca for information on the Affordable Care Act.

Forms and publications on these topics are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Five Good Reasons to E-file Your Tax Return Reply

If you haven’t tried IRS e-file before, now is the time. Most taxpayers – more than 80 percent – file electronically. The IRS has processed more than 1 billion individual tax returns safely and securely since the nationwide debut of electronic filing in 1990. Fewer people file a paper tax return every year. Here are five good reasons to e-file your tax return:

1. Accurate and complete. E-file is the best way to file an accurate and complete tax return. Tax returns that are incomplete or include errors take longer to process.

2. Safe and secure. Tax preparers and software companies who e-file must meet strict guidelines and provide the best in encryption technology. You receive an acknowledgement within 48 hours that the IRS received your tax return. If the IRS does not accept your tax return, you will receive notification and can quickly correct your return and resubmit it.

3. Faster refunds. An e-filed tax return usually means a faster refund compared to a paper return. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days. If you choose direct deposit, your refund goes directly into your bank account. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund. About three out of four taxpayers who file receive a tax refund. Last year the average refund was about $2,700.

4. Payment options. If you owe tax, you can e-file early and set an automatic payment date anytime on or before the April 15 due date. You can pay by check or money order, by debit or credit card, or by transferring funds electronically from your bank account.

5. It’s easy. You can e-file on your own through IRS Free File, the free tax preparation and e-filing service available exclusively at IRS.gov. You can also use commercial tax preparation software or ask your tax preparer to e-file your return. And, if you qualify, IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly partners will e-file your return for free.

For more information about IRS e-file, visit IRS.gov.