Number one is identity theft.
The list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams has been released by the IRS, and the number one scam this year is identity theft.
Spokeswoman Peggy Riley says the agency has been dealing with this problem for a few years. She says scammers steal victims' names and Social Security numbers, and use that information to file fraudulent tax forms. When the victims file their own returns on line, they're rejected by the IRS, which says it has already received returns from someone using that name and Social Security number. "And then those taxpayers now have to come forward and prove their identity to the IRS so that we can resolve the issues that have happened and get their refunds back to them as quickly as possible," she says.
If you are the victim of this scam, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
Another scam on the list of the Dirty Dozen is phishing. That's where a scammer sends someone an e-mail, purportedly from the IRS, asking for a lot of personal information. The agency says if it needs to contact a taxpayer, it will send a letter via the US Postal Service. The IRS says it's usually someone trying to obtain personal information and using a website that looks like the IRS web page. Riley says forward this type of e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org so the federal government can shut these scammers down. Then, delete it from your computer.
The third scam on the Dirty Dozen list is return preparer fraud. Riley says ask around; find out who your friends and family members use to prepare their taxes. She also says make sure that preparer signs your return and writes in his or her IRS Preparer Tax Identification number. And don't sign a blank return. Read it over carefully and ask a lot questions before signing the return. The IRS says no matter who prepares your taxes, you are ultimately responsible for what's on your return.
The remaining Dirty Dozen list includes hiding income off shore, free money offers from the IRS, impersonation of a charitable organization, false and inflated income and expenses, bogus 1099 refund claims, frivolous arguments, falsely claiming no wages, disguised corporate ownership and misuse of trusts.
Riley says to always remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.