The Costliest Tax Scams and Mistakes of 2017
Earlier this month the IRS released its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2017. The Canada Revenue Agency also offers resources for detecting tax scams and fraud. Click here to access the Canada Revenue Agency website. Common scams include return preparer fraud, tax collection scams and phishing scams. In addition, many filers wait until the last minute, which can lead to costly mistakes and missed deductions. Whether you hire a professional tax service, use software, file online or via mail, it is important to make sure you understand the most common scams and mistakes.
- Identity Theft Scams. For the sixth year in a row identity theft makes the list of top scams. IDShield offers Tax ID Theft Consultation services ready that arm you with the knowledge and guidance you need to spot identity theft risks or issues. If issues occur, IDShield will help place alerts, walk you through the Tax Resolution guide, IRS Resolution packet and much more. If you do not yet have an IDShield membership, visit www.idshield.com to learn how IDShield is there for you during tax season.
- Beware of dishonest or inept tax professionals. There are many wonderful tax professionals who can help you file accurate and timely returns. Tax preparation services can be invaluable to businesses and individuals with complex personal finances. If you decide to utilize a professional tax preparer find someone you can trust and always make sure they sign your return. Taking a little extra time to consider your preparer before you hire them could save you a great deal trouble. The IRS has a webpage to help you select a preparer and check his or her credentials.
- Do not fall for fake tax collection scams. Tax collection scams often start with a threatening phone call or email. They may claim you owe thousands of dollars in back taxes and that IRS agents are on the way to your home to take you into custody. They will demand immediate payment via wire transfer or credit card. Do not engage with these scammers, hang up the phone or delete the email. The IRS will not call your home or email you. The IRS initiates contact with taxpayers via postal mail. You may report tax collection scams to the U.S. Treasury Department.
- Failing to file and make payment on time. In the U.S. taxes are due on April 18th 2017. In Canada returns are due by April 30th. The IRS does allow a six-month filing extension until October 17th. You must file Form 4868 before the April 18th deadline to request an extension. If you owe money, you will be subject to late fees if the full amount is not paid by April 18th. The Canadian Revenue Agency does not allow for late filing; however, if you cannot make your full payment you can avoid late-filing penalties if you file your return before the April 30th deadline.
- Last minute filing mistakes. Many individuals put off filing their taxes until the last minute. The cost of some tax preparation services may increase as filing deadlines approach. Disorganized late filers may pay late fees, miss out on key deductions or make mistakes. Online tax preparation and filing is a great way to complete your return quickly and with time to spare. You may even be eligible for free online filing if you meet certain income requirements (learn more U.S. and Canada).
- Do not claim a deduction you cannot back up with proper documentation. Underpaying your taxes could subject you to costly fines and penalties. You must be able to show proof of your deductions in the event of an audit. Save copies of your return as well as all of the receipts and other documents you use to prepare your taxes. Keep the documents in a safe and accessible location.