Every year, taxpayers’ personal information is compromised by phishing scams or unscrupulous tax preparers. As tax season kicks off on January 24, the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) wants taxpayers to be aware of tax evasion.
“In the midst of the pandemic which has greatly affected us all, there are those who are using it as an opportunity to illegally line their pockets. IRS-CI is continually using all of its resources at its disposal to protect the public from these fraudsters, but there are also things you can do this filing season to protect your financial well-being,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS-CI Seattle Field Office.
“Now that tax season has begun, all taxpayers need to be diligent and watch for signs of scams and fraud. Every year, dishonest tax preparers and others posing as ‘experts’ profit from well-meaning Americans seeking to pay their taxes. Our will continue to partner with the IRS-CI to investigate these crimes and prosecute those responsible,” said Scott Erik Asphaug, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. .
Here are some tips for avoiding fraud this tax season:
1. Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a trainer available all year round.
2. Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers must have one.
3. Do not use ghost preparer. They will not sign a tax return that they prepare for you.
4. Don’t fall victim to big refund promises from tax preparers. Taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
5. Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
6. Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
7. The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up.
8. Do not respond to text messages, emails, or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that can compromise your personal information.
9. Do not click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages regarding your tax return. These messages are fraudulent.
10. 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.
The IRS Criminal Investigation Seattle Field Office is committed to protecting taxpayers from other fraudsters in the US tax system. Here are just a few examples of some of the most egregious criminals who have recently been investigated and brought to justice:
Damian O. Barrett was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison for carrying out a multi-year fraud scheme in which he filed 745 false tax returns in 19 different states. Barrett used the names, social security numbers and employer identification numbers of various people, some of whom were his clients, to submit these fraudulent claims.
Elizabeth Munoz pleaded guilty to preparing and filing fraudulently false tax returns for herself and her clients. Munoz advertised the “biggest refund guaranteed”, using fraudulent tax schedules, tax credits and filing statuses to carry out refund fraud. Munoz faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of probation.
For more advice 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 can report it to the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral. Taxpayers can report phishing emails to [email protected] or IRS impersonation scams to TIGTA.gov.
This year’s tax season begins on Monday, January 24 and continues until Monday, April 18 for most taxpayers. US taxpayers are subject to worldwide income tax from all sources and must report all taxable income and pay taxes in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code. Taxpayers guilty of fraud may be subject to penalties, including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines and imprisonment.
The IRS-CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for investigating financial crimes, including tax evasion, drug trafficking, money laundering, public corruption, fraud in health care, identity theft, etc. IRS-CI Special Agents are the only federal law enforcement officers with jurisdiction to investigate violations of the Internal Revenue Code, with a federal conviction rate of nearly 90%. The agency has 20 field offices located across the United States and 11 overseas attaché positions.