Tips for avoiding tax-related scams as filing begins

IRS urges tax payers to protect themselves from fraud, scammers

FILE - This July 24, 2018, file photo shows a portion of the 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (Mark Lennihan, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Tax filing season is upon us -- and that means your personal information could be at risk.

Each year, tax payers get conned by tax-related schemes meant to steal money and personal information from people. Filing taxes includes offering a lot of personal information to the filer, or the system it’s being filed with, so officials are urging tax payers to be smart about the process to protect themselves from fraud.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is sharing the following tips to help you avoid tax-related fraud:

  1. Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
  2. Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.
  3. Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
  4. Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. Taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
  5. Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
    1. Tax payers are encouraged to be familiar with the tax return that they are filing, as they are responsible for what is on their tax return.
  6. Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
  7. The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up.
  8. Don’t respond to text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
  9. Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return. These messages are fraudulent.
  10. Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.

Related: Tech Time: IRS urges Americans to file taxes online

Tax season officially began on Jan. 24 and will last through April 18.

Visit the IRS’ website here for more information about choosing a tax professional, or filing a complaint against one.

Those who suspect tax violations by a person or business can report it to the IRS using Form 3949A. Tax-related phishing scams can be reported to IRS impersonation scams can be reported online right here.

Related: Michigan Gov. Whitmer pushes tax cuts, education funding in State of the State address

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.