IRS-CI warns of scams during tax filing season

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:47 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - The IRS Criminal Investigation arm wants to remind taxpayers to protect themselves from scammers and fraudsters during the tax filing season. One of the main points the IRS-CI wants the public to know is that you should choose who does your taxes very carefully. Cindy Hearn is the Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Washington D.C. Field Office.

She says one thing you should look for when choosing a tax preparer is to find one that’s open year round and not just during tax season. Once you meet with them ask for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number or PTIN. All paid preparers are required to have one.

“Don’t use what’s called ghost preparers. That’s when it’s a return preparer that’s not willing to sign the tax return. So what they’ll do is just prepare it and have you sign it. You don’t want to sign anything that doesn’t have their signature on it. That goes with their PTIN as well,” said Hearn.

Hearn says people should also not fall for preparers promising a bigger refund. She says it’s possible they’ll use illegal methods like putting false deductions on your paperwork to get that larger return.

“They do this by creating or inflating income. Which allows you to qualify for a credit that you normally wouldn’t be qualified to have,” said Hearn.

Hearn says you should make sure your refund is being deposited into your bank account and not your preparer’s, adding another way to avoid a false return is to not sign a blank return form.

“They’ll inflate the numbers on the return providing a false return. Then unbeknownst to you the tax return that’s filed with the IRS is incorrect. Then they’ll take a percentage or an amount that’s routed to their account,” said Hearn.

She said it’s important to note the IRS will never call you with threats of legal action. Hearn says if you do receive a call or text like this you should report it to law enforcement. You should never provide personal information when responding to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.