PHILADELPHIA, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As the tax deadline looms, scam artists are looking to prey on unsuspecting business owners and citizens. During tax season, you should be particularly wary.
Philadelphia-based attorney Christopher Ezold warns that everyone should be aware of the Internal Revenue Service's "Dirty Dozen" list of scams to protect themselves from theft and fraud. "Tax scams occur throughout the year, but during tax season, missteps can be easier to make," says Ezold, a partner with The Ezold Law Firm. "The best way to protect yourself is to be informed and to seek advice when you feel confused or suspicious."
The Dirty Dozen listing, compiled by the IRS each year, lists a variety of common scams taxpayers can encounter year-round. Many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns.
Examples of the 2012 Dirty Dozen include:
Identity Theft — According to Javelin Strategy & Research, identity theft rose 13 percent from 2010 to 2011. Ezold says the trend has continued into 2012, and "any time you receive a request for personal or tax information, immediately be suspicious. Only give that information to your trusted advisor."
Return Preparer Fraud — Unethical tax return preparers have skimmed off their clients' refunds, charged inflated fees for tax return preparation services and attracted new clients by promising guaranteed or inflated refunds. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. Seek an adviser with a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Better yet, hire a Certified Public Accountant ("CPA").
Phishing — Any unsolicited email for valuable personal and financial information is almost certainly a scam.
"Free Money" from the IRS and Tax Scams Involving Social Security — There is no such thing as free money from the IRS.
False/Inflated Income and Expenses — Claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to secure larger refund will have serious repercussions if you are audited. The IRS randomly audits thousands of taxpayers a year; be prepared.
Falsely Claiming Zero Wages — Filing a phony information return is an illegal way to lower the amount of taxes an individual owes.
For a complete listing of the IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2012 visit: http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=254383,00.html
SOURCE Christopher Ezold