The Internal Revenue Service recently revealed its complete list of the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2015. Phone scams topped out the list this year as they have gotten more aggressive with fraudsters calling taxpayers and alleging they are IRS agents, police or immigration officials.
Here’s the IRS list with a little information about each scam.
- Phone scams. These aggressive phone calls threaten arrest, jail time or deportation. They come from individuals who are trying to steal your money or your personal information. Don’t fall victim. If the IRS needs to talk with you, they first will send you a letter the old-fashioned way – via U.S. Mail.
- Phishing. These are fake emails or websites that are used to steal personal information. They look official, but they are not. Remember, the IRS will not send an email about a bill, just because. The IRS typically will contact you first by U.S. Mail. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, don’t click.
- Identity theft. Scammers who steal personal information use it to file fraudulent tax returns. If the IRS sends you a letter notifying you that more than one return has been filed using your personal information, you may be a victim of identity theft.
- Return preparer fraud. Most tax preparers are honest, hard-working individuals, but a few are dishonest. Here are some tips for choosing a tax preparer.
- Offshore tax avoidance. This is when taxpayers try to hide money and income offshore.
- Inflated refund claims. If a tax preparer promises you a super-gigantic refund before reviewing your records or asks you to sign a blank return, you should find a different tax preparer. You can search this IRS list of preparers.
- Fake charities. Hard to believe, but some groups out there are not really raising money for the causes they tout. Before you give, check out a charity’s status with this IRS tool.
- Hiding income with fake documents. Enough said. Tax fraud is a crime.
- Abusive tax shelters. These are tax structures some use to avoid paying taxes.
- Falsifying income to claim credits. We said it before, and we’ll say it again, tax fraud is a crime.
- Excessive claims for fuel tax credits. This claim is not available to most taxpayers. Make sure you are eligible before you claim the credit.
- Frivolous tax arguments. You have every right to contest your tax liabilities, but you should not disobey the law when it comes to your responsibility to pay taxes.