IRS Publishes List of "Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues a list of "Dirty Dozen" tax scams that can affect taxpayers. The IRS publishes the list in order to educate taxpayers about the need to protect financial information and use common sense when it comes to filing tax returns.

Acting IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller, announced that, "The Dirty Dozen list shows that scams come in many forms during filing season. Don't let a scam artist steal from you or talk you into doing something you will regret later."

Below, are the IRS's top four scams on the list:

1. Identity theft

Identity thieves are increasingly getting hold of taxpayers' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other information, and then fraudulently claiming tax refunds in their names.

In response to the rise in identity theft, the IRS has been updating its fraud screening systems and penalizing more identity thieves. Last year, the IRS prevented $20 billion worth of fraudulent refunds from being issued. Earlier this year, the IRS also launched a nationwide crackdown against 389 identity theft suspects.

If you get a notice from the IRS that more than one return has been filed under your name, your identity has potentially been compromised. If you suspect you're a victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

2. Phishing

The IRS does not use e-mail, texts or social media to contact taxpayers for personal or financial information, so if you have you received an e-mail that appears to be from the IRS, it's probably not. Instead, the e-mail could be from someone who is trying to obtain your personal information in order to steal your identity.

3. Fraudulent tax preparers

When choosing a preparer, make sure the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Preparers are required to put their PTIN numbers on your tax return. If they don't, that should raise a red flag. Also, watch out for preparers who base their fees on the size of your refund.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Complaints about potentially fraudulent tax preparers can be submitted via Form 14157.

4. Illegal offshore bank accounts

The IRS has been cracking down on taxpayers illegally hiding income abroad. In 2009, the IRS launched the voluntary disclosure program which has brought in $5.5 billion in taxes, interest and penalties from taxpayers holding assets in offshore accounts without reporting them on their U.S. tax returns.

To see the IRS's complete Dirty Dozen List, click here.

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