Watch for Tax Return ID-theft Scams
The first nine months of 2012 witnessed a 62-percent increase in the number of identity theft cases according to the IRS. Much of this is due to people placing too much personal identifying information on social media sites such as Facebook. Thieves roam these sites looking for such information because they can then pretend to be the IRS and send you messages asking you to verify information on your tax return such as your social security number. Unfortunately, it is also increasingly common for thieves to file tax returns for individuals and then claim the tax refunds before the real taxpayers have even filed their returns.
Stay safe this tax season. Protect yourself by: 1) making sure the online filing service you are using is registered on the IRS website at: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Authorized-IRS-e-file-Providers-for-Individuals, 2) do not click on Facebook newsfeed messages or on any links in any tax-related e-mails because you cannot verify they will take you to a legitimate website, 3) do not respond to e-mail messages said to be from the IRS [they are scams; the IRS does not contact taxpayers by e-mail], 4) search for tax documents only on the official IRS website at www.irs.gov and do not download tax-related documents from any other site, and 5) do not use a public or unprotected computer to file your tax return.
File Your Taxes Online for Free
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is making available a variety of online options for filing your taxes for free, provided your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less. These options are available on the web at: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free. You can choose from 15 brand-name tax-preparation software packages. The online software packages provide directions that are generally easy to follow for the average taxpayer and will help ensure the accuracy of your federal tax return. Some of the software packages, however, will charge to file a state tax return, so be sure to read the company’s listed website before your begin the process. Also, be sure only to access these software packages from this IRS site if you want to file your federal tax return for free. Otherwise, the software provider may try to sell you additional products and services for a fee.