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CNB Consumer News: IRS Criminal Investigation issues 10 tips to avoid tax season fraud    

 

PHILADELPHIA – Each year, taxpayers’ personal information is compromised through phishing scams or by unscrupulous tax preparers. With tax season kicking off on Jan. 24, IRS Criminal  Investigation (IRS-CI) wants taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud.  

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“Tax return preparers owe it to their clients to prepare tax returns that are complete, accurate and in compliance with the law,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Yury  Kruty. “Unfortunately, every tax filing season, we see tax return preparers who lie and cheat for  a quick buck at the expense of their clients.” 

Tips to avoid tax season fraud include: 

  1. Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round. 2. Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.  
  2. Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.  4. Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. Taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.  
  3. Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.  
  4. Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer.  
  5. The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up.  8. Don’t respond to text messages, emails, or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.  9. Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return. These messages are fraudulent.  
  6. Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails, or social media posts claiming to be the  IRS.  

Jean Coq (hereinafter Coq) was sentenced to six months in federal prison for preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns for his clients. Coq filed these tax returns claiming fictitious or falsely inflated Schedules A, Itemized Deductions, for client taxpayers. Schedules A claimed inflated state and local income taxes paid, false or inflated gifts to charity, false or inflated unreimbursed employee business expenses, and false or inflated miscellaneous deductions. These fraudulent deductions resulted in tax refunds due to the client taxpayers that they otherwise were not entitled to receive. 

Jamar White (hereinafter White) was sentenced to four months in federal prison for aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent income tax returns. White, who previously pleaded guilty to the tax charges, created false tax returns for a number of clients while acting as a paid tax return preparer. By falsifying various deductions for things such as gifts to charity and business expenses, White was able to secure refunds for clients to which they were not in fact entitled.  

For more tips on choosing a tax professional or how to file a complaint against one, visit IRS.gov.  Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business may report it to the IRS using Form  3949A, Information Referral. Taxpayers can report phishing emails to phishing@irs.gov or IRS  impersonation scams to TIGTA.gov.  

This year’s tax season begins Monday, Jan. 24, and continues through Monday, April 18 for most taxpayers. U.S. taxpayers are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources and must report all taxable income and pay taxes according to the Internal Revenue Code. Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines, and jail time.  

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,  healthcare 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 nearly 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 11 attaché posts abroad. 

 

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