FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2016
State’s Attorney Reminds Public Regarding Tax Refund Fraud
Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds is alerting the public regarding identity theft and tax refund fraud associated with April’s tax filing deadline. Tax refund fraud commonly occurs when stolen identity information is used to file a tax return in the victim’s name and the thief then obtains the refund that would be due to the victim. Tax refund fraud has previously been reported in Union County and the State’s Attorney’s Office urges the public to protect identifying documents and information as the tax deadline approaches. The IRS has completed the 2016 “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams with a warning to taxpayers about aggressive telephone scams continuing from coast-to-coast during this filing season. Along with aggressive and threatening phone calls, e‑mail phishing schemes are among the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams. Members of the public with questions or reporting suspicious activity may call the Union County State’s Attorney’s Office at 618–833-7216 or the IRS toll-free at 1–800-908‑4490.
The IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams include the following:
- Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to tax payers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.
- Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Taxpayers should be wary of strange emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.
- Return Preparer Fraud: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. Legitimate tax professionals are a vital part of the U.S. tax system.
- Offshore Tax Avoidance: The recent string of successful enforcement actions against offshore tax cheats and the financial organizations that help them shows that it’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. Taxpayers are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting their taxes and filing requirements in order. The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to enable people catch up on their filing and tax obligations.
- Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who asks them to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at their records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via community groups where trust is high to find victims.
- Fake Charities: Taxpayers should be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.
Additional information is also available online at www.unioncountyil.gov/sa and at www.irs.gov/identitytheft. The full list of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams is available at https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Wraps-Up-the-Dirty-Dozen-List-of-Tax-Scams-for-2016