Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015

IRS releases dirty dozen tax scams for 2015Tax scams and schemes to steal your money aren’t as uncommon as you might think. In fact, each year, the IRS reveals twelve of the most common scams and schemes used to defraud taxpayers, known as the “Dirty Dozen tax scams”. Knowing what to look for can help avoid falling prey to some of the most common scams.

Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015

1. Phone Scams

The IRS warns against aggressive phone calls by people claiming to be IRS agents. The phone calls are often threatening arrest, deportation, repossession, and license revocation, among other threats. The IRS doesn’t call to demand immediate payment, and won’t make first contact with you by phone. If you are unsure whether the person calling you is a real IRS agent, hang up and call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS can verify any tax issues and help with payment. (IR-2015-5)

2. Phishing

Avoid clicking on emails claiming to be from the IRS if they appear to come out of the blue. Scammers create fake websites that look similar to legitimate sites in order to collect personal identifying information from unwitting suspects. The IRS won’t randomly email you, so don’t be tempted to click on any links claiming to direct you to the IRS website. (IR-2015-6)

3. Identity Theft

Identity theft around tax time is a common scheme that taxpayers need to be concerned about. Criminals use personally identifying information from taxpayers to file phony returns. While the IRS is aggressively pursuing this type of theft, it doesn’t stop would-be criminals from using a stolen social security number to file a fraudulent claim. (IR-2015-7)

4. Return Preparer Fraud

Most professionals preparers are going to provide honest, high-quality services and are not going to defraud clients. However, each year a few unscrupulous preparers set up shop in an attempt to siphon off parts (or all) of your refund through identity theft, fraudulent returns, or other scams. Be wary of somebody who claims they can obtain a significantly higher refund than what you would normally expect, those who base their fees on a percentage of your refund, or anybody who won’t sign your return and provide you a copy. (IR-2015-8)

5. Offshore Tax Avoidance

It’s a dangerous gamble to attempt to hide money offshore. The IRS is working hard to crack down on attempts to hide income, and offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to help people get their taxes in order. (IR-2015-09)

6. Inflated Refund Claims

Taxpayers should be wary of anybody offering large returns, and should never sign a blank return or do business with somebody who bases their fees on a percentage of the return. (IR-2015-12)

7. Fake Charities

Who doesn’t want to donate to help starving children in America? While donating your hard-earned money is definitely altruistic and can potentially be a tax write-off, the IRS warns of people using fake charities as a means of defrauding victims. Be wary of an organization that has a similar name to a well-known organization. Visit irs.gov for the status of charitable organizations. (IRS-2015-16)

8. Hiding Income with Fake Documents

Using fake 1099s  or other falsified documents is a major scam that taxpayers should be aware of. Anybody who offers to falsify documents in order to reduce tax liability should raise serious red flags. (IRS-2015-18)

9. Abusive Tax Shelters

Among the Dirty Dozen tax scams is the use of abusive tax structures in order to avoid paying taxes. Taxpayers should always be concerned with anybody offering complicated tax structures or shelters to shield income. (IRS-2015-19)

10. Falsifying Income to Claim Credits

This one is fairly common. It is often done in order to reduce taxable income and claim larger credits in order to achieve an inflated return. The IRS reminds taxpayers to file as accurate a return as possible. They are liable for whatever they submit. (IRS-2015-20)

11. Excessive Claims for Fuel Tax Credits

The fuel tax credit only applies to a small group of individuals who file. However, the IRS warns that each year, there are groups of dishonest preparers trying to use this credit in order to gain a higher return for their clients. (IR-2015-21)

12. Frivolous Tax Arguments

Rounding out the list of the Dirty Dozen tax scams for 2015 are frivolous tax arguments. Taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court. The IRS strongly discourages taxpayers from using ridiculous claims. (IR-2015-23)

There are dozens more tax scams out there. Scammers are always coming up with new schemes to steal from unsuspecting victims. The Dirty Dozen tax scams are the ones most commonly seen by the IRS. When it comes down to it, always be aware of what you are signing and sending to the IRS. When in doubt, hold off until you are able to contact a reputable tax professional.


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  1. […] contact the IRS directly. For more details on some of the tax scams that are common, check out our post on the Dirty Dozen Tax […]

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