Top 12 Tax Scams of 2016

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The IRS recently finished announcing their “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for the 2016 filing season. The list compiles the most common scams that taxpayers may encounter year-round. These schemes increase drastically in frequency in the months surrounding the annual filing deadline. Here is the full list that you should be aware of in 2016:

1. Phone scams

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain ongoing threats.

2. Phishing

Be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue.

3. Identity Theft

As we spoke about last week, identity theft is especially prevalent around tax time.  The IRS continues to pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number.

4. Return Preparer Fraud

The vast majority provide high-quality service, but some dishonest preparers set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.

5. Offshore Tax Avoidance

The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) to help people get their taxes in order.

6. Inflated Refund Claims

Be wary of anyone who asks you to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at their records, or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund.

7. Fake Charities

Take a few extra minutes to ensure that your donations go to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools to check out the status of these organizations.

8. Hiding Income With Fake Documents

Hiding taxable income by filing false Form 1099s or other fake documents is a scam that you should always guard against.

9. Abusive Tax Shelters

Be on the lookout for people peddling complex tax avoidance schemes that sound too good to be true.

10. Falsifying Income to Claim Credits

While often done unknowingly, avoid inventing income to erroneously claim tax credits.

11. Excessive Claims for Fuel Tax Credits

The fuel tax credit is generally limited to off-highway business use, including use in farming. Consequently, the credit is not available to most people.

12. Frivolous Tax Arguments

Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage people to make unreasonable claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. These arguments are wrong and have been thrown out of court in the past.