Don’t Get Scammed
on your Tax Return
With tax-filing season in full swing, Floridians should be aware of possible refund scams as they file their tax returns this year. According to a September 2012 report by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Florida ranks highest in the nation for identity theft and tax refund fraud. South Florida has been hit particularly hard, as Miami’s per capita number of false returns based on identity theft has been estimated at 46 times the national average.
Things to Remember
Even though tax preparation fees based on a percentage of the return instead of a flat rate is not illegal, it does provide a financial incentive for the preparer to encourage you to claim funds you may not be entitled to.
If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, you should contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 to determine the authenticity.
The only genuine IRS website is www.irs.gov.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases an annual list of the top twelve tax scams to be aware of during the tax-filing period. In 2012, the IRS list of the “Dirty Dozen” identified phishing as a tool commonly used to commit fraud. Phishing scams are unsolicited emails asking for personal information, including a link to a fake or spoofed website, possibly claiming to belong to the IRS. These scams can not only compromise your identity, but your computer as well. Keep in mind that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or through social media, to request personal or financial information.
The IRS estimates that about 60 percent of taxpayers use tax professionals when preparing and filing their tax returns. Even though most of these tax professionals offer honest services to their clients, there are others that prey on innocent taxpayers. Fraudulent tax return preparers are known to charge inflated prices for their services, skim part of their clients’ refunds and lure their victims by offering guaranteed or overstated refunds. The IRS recommends consumers choose a tax preparer who files returns with a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). For more tips from the IRS, visit www.irs.gov.For additional information, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at www.800helpfla.com or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) within Florida, (850) 410-3800 from outside of Florida or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español.