Avoid Tax Season Red Flags

Taxes in the US are notoriously difficult (even at the 1040EZ level), which is why so many Americans depend on tax services to maximize their savings and/or returns. However, with so much confusion and the IRS making crucial changes every tax year, the perfect opportunity for scammers to try their tricks is created. Beginning in the autumn of 2014, the IRS reported an increase in "aggressive telephone scams" and it continued to grow through the holiday season, slated to peak right in time for that April 15 deadline.


Whether you are reporting for your wholesale merchandise business or your retail store you need to make sure that you are careful with your return as well as watching out for scams.


While the IRS released a YouTube video warning taxpayers to watch out for telephone scammers, there will surely be more and more unfortunate victims as the tax filing deadline nears. The good news is that a little education and information can go a long way. The biggest red flag is simply receiving a phone call-the IRS doesn't call taxpayers, and if they need to communicate with you they'll do so via snail mail.


Easier than Figuring Out Your AGI

Of course, the best way to prevent any kind of mistakes with your taxes, whether it's falling victim to a scam or not writing off every possible deduction, is to depend on a tax services company to take care of this overwhelming task for you. Even better, entrepreneurs and business owners can write off this year's tax services next year. However, that doesn't stop some of these scammers from using scare tactics that can bully some people into handing over their hard-earned cash.


According to John Koskinen, a commissioner with the IRS, "In recent weeks, we continue to see these telephone scams in every part of the country. We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are clear warning signs of fraud. This is not how we do business-we urge people to be careful when they get these threatening phone calls." Think a scammer's been targeting you? Here's how to tell:


  • They're sticklers about certain payment methods. Besides the fact that the IRS won't call you, they also won't demand a certain type of payment-in fact, the IRS wants to make it as easy as possible for you to pay your taxes. If a caller demands payment via a "weird" method, like a prepaid debit card, you can be sure it' a scam.


  • They want a credit/debit card number now. Say what you will about the IRS, but they're actually pretty flexible when it comes to payment times and terms. They're not going to demand to know your credit or debit card number, and you should never give that information over the phone to anyone who calls you directly.


  • They want payment right now. If you haven't received a letter in the mail detailing what you owe, and of course from the IRS, they're never going to demand payment right away. Leaving a paper trail is paramount for the IRS and for you.


  • They threaten you. In some severe cases, scammers have threatened to call the police or some other government agency to put you in jail for failure to pay-this isn't how the system works. If this happens to you, it's time to report abuse.


If you think you may owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 (see what they did there with the last four digits?). If you think you're a victim of a scammer, contact the police, possibly an attorney and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.