IRS: Protect against fraud this tax season

With tax season officially opening Monday, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation unit is warning the public to take extra steps to protect their identities and wallets when filing their taxes.

“The hard-working Michigan taxpayers are really the first line of defense against dishonest return preparers and their scams,” said Charles Miller, the acting special agent in charge of the IRS-CI’s Detroit field office. “If taxpayers are aware, they can avoid falling victim to the latest tax fraud scheme.”

The IRS-CI suggests these steps to prevent fraud —

— Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.

— Ask any tax preparer being considered for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number. All paid preparers are required to have one.

— Don’t use ghost preparers, as they won’t sign a tax return.

— Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. All taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.

— Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.

— Make sure any refund is received. Refunds should be deposited into the taxpayer’s bank account, not the tax preparer’s.

— The IRS will not call threatening legal action. Anyone receiving a call like this should hang up — it’s a scam.

— Don’t respond to or click on links in text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise personal information.

— Protect personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.

— Report fraud to law enforcement. Submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral, if an individual or business is suspected of committing fraud.

IRS-CI is the only federal law enforcement agency with the authority to investigate violations of the Internal Revenue Code. In fiscal year 2022, IRS-CI identified $5.7 billion in tax fraud, initiated 1,388 criminal tax investigations and obtained 699 criminal sentences for tax crimes.

IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, health care fraud, identity theft and more. IRS-CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, boasting a more than 90% federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices across the U.S. and 12 attache posts abroad.


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