Like it or not, and most folks don’t, tax returns must be filed and if taxes are due, they must be paid. So, when con artists pretend to be with the Internal Revenue Service or are “independent tax advisers” who in reality are thieves, it makes honest folk’s blood boil.
The IRS issued a warning to taxpayers to be alert for a fraud engineered by thieves. For a fee, these con artists will help taxpayers file false documents to claim a refund they are not entitled to or a “stimulus payment.” Of course, there is no stimulus payment for them and filing false documents with your tax return is illegal. Even if you are advised by a phony tax preparer, you are the one filing the false document and could potentially get into trouble with the IRS for doing so.
These scam artists are targeting senior citizens, low-income taxpayers, and church congregations. They promise “free money” from the government, they then take cash for their “help.” By the time the scam is uncovered they are long gone.
Usually, the thief claims that they can obtain a refund for the taxpayer under the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This is a legitimate tax credit for folks enrolled in schools of higher learning.
The crooks though, claim that even taxpayers who went to school decades ago can get a refund now, with virtually no documentation to prove their claim – which is not valid anyway.
The scam has become so outrageous that these phony tax advisers claim that people can claim taxes paid on groceries if they never went to college to make them eligible for this tax benefit (American Opportunity Tax Benefit).
The IRS urges taxpayers to suspect a scam if:
- You are encouraged to file for a refund or tax rebate by filing false statements.
- Strange and/or unknown for-profit tax service companies attempt to sell tax refunds or tax rebates to members of congregations of local churches
- An unsolicited approach via the Internet asks you to call a toll free number and tell them your social security number
- Flyers and brochures that are homemade and suggest that you can get a tax credit or refund without needing to give the IRS proof of your eligibility
- Free money offers from the IRS with no documents required
- Refund promises for “Low income – No Documents Tax Returns.”
- Filing claims to recover money from the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or for some generic economic stimulus payments
- Uninvited offers to have your tax return prepared if you share the refund
- Strange return preparation companies asking for your business from distant cities
Not only will these people take your money, not get you any money and expose to you IRS sanction, they will likely steal your identity too! Be smart by being aware of the above trouble signs and say “No thanks.”