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