Common Holiday Season Tax Scams
Phishing Emails: Scammers often send emails that appear to be from the IRS, complete with official-looking logos and email addresses. They claim there’s an issue with your tax return or refund and request personal information or payment. The IRS will never initiate contact via email.
Phone Scams: Fraudsters may call you, impersonating IRS agents or tax professionals. They threaten legal action or arrest if you don’t make immediate payments. The IRS does not make such calls and will always communicate through official channels.
Fake Charities: Be cautious when donating to charities during the holiday season. Scammers create fake charities to collect donations that they keep for themselves. Verify the legitimacy of any charity before donating.
Tax Preparer Scams: Some fraudulent tax preparers promise unrealistically large refunds or charge exorbitant fees. They may also manipulate your financial information to maximize your refund, putting you at risk of IRS audits and penalties.
Identity Theft: Scammers steal your personal information to file fraudulent tax returns on your behalf and claim refunds. This can be a devastating crime that takes time and effort to resolve.
Tips to Avoid Holiday Season Tax Scams
Be Skeptical: If something seems too good to be true or if you receive unsolicited communication from the IRS or a tax professional, be skeptical. Verify the sender’s legitimacy before taking any action.
Protect Personal Information: Never share personal or financial information via email or phone. The IRS won’t request sensitive information this way.
Verify Charities: If you plan to donate to a charity, verify its legitimacy using tools like the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search.
Use Reputable Tax Preparers: Ensure that your tax preparer has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and a good reputation. Avoid those who promise unusually high refunds.
File Early: Filing your tax return early can help protect you from identity theft. If a scammer attempts to file a fraudulent return in your name, your legitimate return will already be on file.
Stay Informed: Keep up to date with the latest scams by regularly visiting the IRS’s “Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts” webpage.
Report Scams: If you encounter a tax scam, report it to the IRS through their official website.
Protect Your Computer: Use reliable antivirus software to safeguard your computer from malware and phishing attempts.
The holiday season is a time to cherish and protect your finances. By staying vigilant, being cautious with your personal information, and verifying the legitimacy of all communications, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to holiday season tax scams. Remember, the IRS will never initiate contact through email or phone calls, and legitimate charities are transparent about their operations. If in doubt, consult with a tax professional or the IRS to verify the authenticity of any tax-related communication. Your financial well-being is worth protecting during this joyous season.