Tag Archives: tax scams

Understanding taxpayer rights: The right to retain representation

November 27, 2021

Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation. This is one of the fundamental rights of all taxpayers as outlined in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Here’s what the right to retain representation means to taxpayers:

• Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS.
• Taxpayers who are heading to an interview with the IRS may select someone to represent them.
• Taxpayers who retain representation don’t have to attend with their representative unless the IRS formally summons them to appear.
• In most situations, the IRS must suspend an interview if the taxpayer requests to consult with a representative, such as an attorney, certified public accountant or enrolled agent.
• Any attorney, CPA, enrolled agent, enrolled actuary or other person permitted to represent a taxpayer before the IRS, who’s not disbarred or suspended from practice before the IRS, may submit a written power of attorney to represent a taxpayer before the IRS.
• Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they can’t afford representation. They can find a LITC near them by visiting the Low Income Taxpayer Clinics page on IRS.gov or by calling the IRS toll-free at 800-829-3676.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics are independent from the IRS and the Taxpayer Advocate Service. These clinics may charge a small fee to represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Should you find yourself in need of representation in a tax matter before the IRS, please give Tax On Wheels, LLC a call 803 732-4288. We offer a free initial consultation to assess your needs. We will offer you a recommendation on your next step, whether that be hiring us or an attorney or doing things yourself.  Remember, if you are engaged in illegal activity such as tax evasion, you will need to contact an attorney first. Your attorney can then hire Tax On Wheels, LLC for support with tax matters using a Kovel letter which will allow us to maintain attorney client privilege.

More Information:
Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer
Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List
Taxpayer Advocate Service

Beware of ‘ghost’ preparers who don’t sign tax returns

February 6, 2021

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers to avoid “ghost” tax return preparers whose refusal to sign returns can cause a frightening array of problems. It is important to file a valid, accurate tax return because the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for it.

Ghost preparers get their scary name because they don’t sign tax returns they prepare. Like a ghost, they try to be invisible to the fact they’ve prepared the return and will print the return and get the taxpayer to sign and mail it. For e-filed returns, the ghost preparer will prepare but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer.

By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign and include their PTIN on the return. Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a fast buck by promising a big refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund.

Unscrupulous tax return preparers may also:

  • Require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt.
  • Invent income to qualify their clients for tax credits.
  • Claim fake deductions to boost the size of the refund.
  • Direct refunds into their bank account, not the taxpayer’s account.

The IRS urges taxpayers to choose a tax return preparer wisely. The Choosing a Tax Professional page on IRS.gov has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers by type of credential or qualification.

No matter who prepares the return, the IRS urges taxpayers to review it carefully and ask questions about anything not clear before signing. Taxpayers should verify both their routing and bank account number on the completed tax return for any direct deposit refund. And taxpayers should watch out for preparers putting their bank account information onto the returns.

Taxpayers can report preparer misconduct to the IRS using IRS Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.

At Tax On Wheels, LLC, we proudly sign all our returns and we stand behind our work.  Please give us a call at 803 732-4288 if we can assist you with your tax filing needs.

Taxpayers should know the telltale signs of a scam

June 5, 2018

Many taxpayers recently filed their taxes and may be waiting for a response from the IRS. Because of this summertime tends to be a period when thieves increase their scam attempts. They try to get people to disclose personal information like Social Security numbers, account information and passwords.

To avoid becoming a victim, taxpayers should remember these telltale signs of a scam:

The IRS and its authorized private collection agencies will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury. Taxpayers should never make checks out to third parties.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Use email, text messages or social media to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.

For anyone who doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:

For anyone who owes tax or thinks they do, they can:

  • View tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed. Taxpayers can then also review their payment options.
  • Call the number on the billing notice.
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help.

More information:

Tax On Wheels, LLC is always available to assist you if you have questions or concerns about being contacted by any taxing authority, including the Internal Revenue Service.  Please feel free to give us a call at 803 732-4288 if we can be of assistance to you.

Beware of Fake Charity Scams Relating to Hurricane Harvey

August 30, 2017

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service has issued a warning about possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricane Harvey and encouraged taxpayers to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.

While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, people should be aware of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.

Criminals often send emails that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. These sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.

IRS.gov has the tools people need to quickly and easily check the status of charitable organizations.

The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

  • Be sure to donate to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution. Scam artists may use this information to steal a donor’s identity and money.
  • Never give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
  • Consult IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, available on IRS.gov. This free booklet describes the tax rules that apply to making legitimate tax-deductible donations. Among other things, it also provides complete details on what records to keep.

Taxpayers suspecting fraud by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”

More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.” Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on IRS.gov.

As always, please feel free to contact Tax On Wheels, LLC directly at 803 732-4288  if we can be of assistance to you.

Liberty Tax franchises closed by IRS due to alleged fraud

November 5, 2016

Liberty tax outlets across the country have suffered a string of setbacks in the past few months.  Federal authorities allege fraudulent tax returns were generated at several locations.  Most recently, three local Liberty Tax franchise stores were shut down by federal authorities and the operator of the franchise was permanently barred from preparing tax returns.

But that is not the end of the story.  Apparently, as part of a court ordered injunction, the franchise operator will have to provide to the IRS a list of all of its customers.  We don’t think the IRS wants that information so it can update their holiday greeting card list.  We suspect that many of those on the list can expect some type of inquiry/audit from tax authorities in the near future.  And here’s a pro tip, there is no statute of limitations on tax fraud.  Normally, if you have been reasonably accurate in filing your tax return you can assume that the IRS cannot and will not challenge your return after 3 years.  But not so if you have filed a fraudulent return, or had one filed on your behalf. The IRS can come after you at any time in the future with no deadline or time limit.  Ouch!

Even if you consider yourself a victim of unscrupulous tax return preparers and you had no idea there was anything wrong, you are ultimately responsible for everything on your tax return.  You may be babe in the woods innocent, but that will not change your tax liability.  You will be responsible for all of the taxes the IRS believes you owe.  The good news is you may be able to convince the IRS to relieve you of some of the quite substantial penalties that may apply.

If you find that you need assistance in responding to a letter or audit from a state or federal taxing authority, whether due to the recent Liberty Tax troubles or not, please let us see how we can help you.  We’ll give you an honest assessment of your situation and provide you with several steps to take to help mitigate the damage, all for no cost or obligation.  If, however, you would like our assistance in responding to the letter or audit, Tax On Wheels,LLC is here to help.  We will offer you a fair price, to help resolve your tax issues.  Frequently we find that our prices are significantly lower than many of our competitors to obtain the exact same results.

Tax On Wheels, LLC can be reached at 803 732-4288 or toll free at 877 439-3514.  Our email address is taxonwheels@att.net.

IRS Says be Alert for Tax Scams

July 1, 2016

Tax scammers work year-round; they don’t take the summer off. The IRS urges you to stay vigilant against calls from scammers impersonating the IRS. Here are several tips from the IRS to help you avoid being a victim:

  • Scams use scare tactics. These aggressive and sophisticated scammers try to scare people into making an immediate payment. They make threats, often threaten arrest or deportation, or they say they’ll take away your driver’s or professional license if you don’t pay. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests, sometimes through “robo-calls.” Emails will often contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for you to reply.
  • Scams spoof caller ID. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legit. They may use online resources to get your name, address and other details about your life to make the call sound official.
  • Scams use phishing email and regular mail. Scammers copy official IRS letterhead to use in email or regular mail they send to victims. In another new variation, schemers provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. This makes the scheme look official.
  • Scams cost victims over $38 million. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of more than one million contacts since October 2013. TIGTA is also aware of more than 6,700 victims who have collectively reported over $38 million in financial losses as a result of tax scams.

The real IRS will not:

  • The IRS will not call you about your tax bill without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount that you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card or any specific type of tender.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
  • Threaten you with a lawsuit.

If you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not provide any information to the caller. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe taxes call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you if you do owe taxes.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer rights and more.

IRS YouTube Videos: 

IRS Podcasts:

How to choose a tax preparer

March 22, 2016

Although we are located in South Carolina, we prepare tax returns for clients all across the country including the state of New York.

For the past few weeks, the state of New York has been on a bit of a tear locking up rogue tax preparers, as have many other jurisdictions including the IRS.  But New York has made a special effort to post the name and image of tax preparers who have been arrested for various scams involving bogus tax returns to the tune of about one a week. (Scroll to the bottom of this article for more details on the arrests).

In light of their recent activities, the state of New York has posted what we think is a pretty good guide to choosing a tax preparer and we would like to share their guide with our readers.  Of course, we think Tax On Wheels, LLC is an excellent choice for your tax preparation needs and we will be happy to assist you with your tax return.  Simply give us a call at 803 732-4288 and we will take it from there.

Following Recent Statewide Tax Preparer Arrests, NYS Tax Department and the NYS Division of Consumer Protection Issue Alert

Tax Department launches new webpage and checklist for taxpayers who are considering hiring a tax preparer.

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the Division of Consumer Protection today issued a consumer warning to the seven million taxpayers who have yet to file income tax returns.

“In light of the recent arrests of tax preparers across New York State, we’re urging taxpayers to ask the right questions before trusting someone with their private information,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone. “Each year, we receive thousands of tax returns based on stolen identities, some of which are submitted by unethical tax preparers. If you choose to hire a tax preparer, follow these easy steps to ensure that the preparer is honest and qualified.”

“The Division of Consumer Protection strongly urges all New Yorkers to practice due diligence when selecting a tax preparer,” said Acting NYS Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “Always get the terms and total cost of the service in writing. Avoid any tax preparer who charges a percentage of your tax refund as part of the fee. Most important, if you suspect you’re being defrauded by a tax preparer, report that individual to the Tax Department immediately.”

Before you hire a tax preparer

While millions of New Yorkers prepare their taxes without the services of a paid tax preparer, the Tax Department and Division of Consumer Protection encourage taxpayers who are considering a paid preparer to ask these four questions:

  • Are you registered with the IRS and New York State? New York State registered preparers must meet continuing education requirements and minimum qualifications. Attorneys, certified public accountants, and IRS enrolled agents aren’t required to register but do have other professional requirements. Ask to see the preparer’s registration certificate or proof that he or she isn’t required to register. (You can also verify that a tax preparer is registered online.)
  • How much will it cost? Ask to see a list of fees. The fees should be directly related to the services provided and not the refund amount. Also, by law, preparers cannot charge to e-file in NYS.
  • How will I receive my refund? A refund should never be deposited into a preparer’s bank account. The fastest and safest way to receive your refund is to have it directly deposited into your bank account.
  • Will you sign the return? A completed tax return must be signed by both the taxpayer and the preparer. Preparers must also include their federal preparer tax identification number (PTIN) or social security number, and either their NYS registration number or exclusion code. You should never hire a preparer who won’t sign your return, and never sign a return before it’s fully prepared.

Taxpayers should also ensure that the preparer will:

  • base the tax return on actual records and receipts,
  • e-file the return, and
  • be available after the tax return is filed in case questions arise.

Taxpayers can also contact the Better Business Bureau to see whether a tax preparer has a history of consumer complaints.

New York is one of only four states to regulate the tax preparer industry. While most tax preparers are honest and provide excellent service to their clients, taxpayers must remain vigilant to protect themselves from individuals who file fraudulent returns or misuse personal information.

New webpage and checklist for taxpayers

To help taxpayers screen potential tax preparers, the Tax Department published a new checklist available at its Tips for hiring a tax preparer webpage. Before hiring a tax preparer, use the checklist as a guideline when visiting or calling prospective preparers.

File a complaint

If you’re aware of a tax preparer who has engaged in illegal or improper conduct, contact the NYS Tax Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility at (518) 530-HELP (option #2) or file a tax preparer complaint online. The Tax Department will review your complaint promptly and, where appropriate, take corrective action, which may include sanctions.

Recent arrests

What to expect for tax refunds in 2016

January 28, 2016

We are receiving inquiries regarding how long it will take to receive tax refunds this year due to extra scrutiny the IRS is performing to prevent fraudulent tax refunds.  This morning the IRS issued the following notice.

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that it issues 90 percent of refunds in less than 21 days. The best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s my Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go phone app.

“As February approaches, more and more taxpayers want to know when they can expect their refunds,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “There aren’t any secret tricks to checking on the status of a refund. Using IRS.gov is the best way for taxpayers to get the latest information.”

Many taxpayers are eager to know precisely when their money will be arriving, but checking “Where’s My Refund” more than once a day will not produce new information. The status of refunds is refreshed only once a day, generally overnight.

“Where’s My Refund?” has the most up to date information available about your refund. Taxpayers should use this tool rather than calling.

Taxpayers can use “Where’s My Refund?”  to start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after IRS has received an e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed paper return. “Where’s My Refund?” has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved and (3) Refund Sent.

The IRS2Go phone app is another fast and safe tool taxpayers can use to check the status of a refund. In addition, users can use the app to find free tax preparation help, make a payment, watch the IRS YouTube channel, get the latest IRS news, and subscribe to filing season updates and tax tips. The app is free for Android devices from the Google Play Store or from the Apple App Store for Apple devices.

Users of both the IRS2Go app and “Where’s my Refund” tools must have information from their current, pending tax return to access their refund information.

The IRS reminded taxpayers there’s no advantage to calling about refunds. IRS representatives can only research the status of your refund in limited situations: if it has been 21 days or more since you filed electronically, more than six weeks since you mailed your paper return, or “Where’s My Refund?” directs you to contact us. If the IRS needs more information to process your tax return, we will contact you by mail.

The IRS continues to strongly encourage the use of e-file and direct deposit as the fastest and safest way to file an accurate return and receive a tax refund. More than four out of five tax returns are expected to be filed electronically, with a similar proportion of refunds issued through direct deposit.

See the “What to Expect for Refunds in 2016” page for more.

Please feel free to contact Tax On Wheels, LLC  at 803 732-4288 if you need assistance with your tax refund.

Seven Steps for Making Identity Protection Part of Your Routine

December 7, 2015

The theft of your identity, especially personal information such as your name, Social Security number, address and children’s names, can be traumatic and frustrating. In this online era, it’s important to always be on guard.

The IRS has teamed up with state revenue departments and the tax industry to make sure you understand the dangers to your personal and financial data. Taxes. Security. Together. Working in partnership with you, we can make a difference.

Here are seven steps you can make part of your routine to protect your tax and financial information:

1. Read your credit card and banking statements carefully and often – watch for even the smallest charge that appears suspicious. (Neither your credit card nor bank – or the IRS – will send you emails asking for sensitive personal and financial information such as asking you to update your account.)

2. Review and respond to all notices and correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service. Warning signs of tax-related identity theft can include IRS notices about tax returns you did not file, income you did not receive or employers you’ve never heard of or where you’ve never worked.   3. Review each of your three credit reports at least once a year. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports.

4. Review your annual Social Security income statement for excessive income reported. You can sign up for an electronic account at www.SSA.gov.

5. Read your health insurance statements; look for claims you never filed or care you never received.

6. Shred any documents with personal and financial information. Never toss documents with your personally identifiable information, especially your social security number, in the trash.

7. If you receive any routine federal deposit such as Social Security Administrator or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, you probably receive those deposits electronically. You can use the same direct deposit process for your federal and state tax refund. IRS direct deposit is safe and secure and places your tax refund directly into the financial account of your choice.

To learn additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit Taxes. Security. Together. You also can read Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on IRS.gov.

If you need assistance with identity theft issues, including making sure that you have properly taken all the necessary steps to secure your identity, please feel free to contact Tax On Wheels, LLC at 803 732-4288.

Additional IRS Resources:

IRS YouTube Videos:

IRS Podcasts:

IRS Warns of Scams On South Carolina Flood Victim Relief

10/9/2015

WASHINGTON ― The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible fake charity scams emerging due to severe flooding this month in South Carolina and neighboring states.

“When making donations to assist flood victims in South Carolina and elsewhere, taxpayers should take steps to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.”

Following major disasters, it is common for scam artists to impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers.

Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, email or in-person solicitations.

The IRS cautions people wishing to make disaster-related charitable donations to avoid scam artists by following these tips:

  • To help disaster victims, donate to recognized charities.
  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Some phony charities use names or websites that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations. The IRS website at IRS.gov has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check, through which people may find legitimate, qualified charities; donations to these charities may be tax-deductible. Legitimate charities may also be found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at fema.gov.
  • Don’t give out personal financial information — such as Social Security numbers or credit card and bank account numbers and passwords — to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists may use this information to steal your identity and money.
  • Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the gift.
  • If you plan to make a contribution for which you would like to claim a deduction, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, to read about the kinds of organizations that can receive deductible contributions.

Bogus websites may solicit funds for disaster victims. Such fraudulent sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.

Additionally, scammers often send email that steers the recipient to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes.

Taxpayers suspecting disaster-related frauds by email should visit IRS.gov and search for the keywords “Report Phishing.”

More information about tax scams and schemes may be found at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”  And as always, please feel free to contact Tax On Wheels, LLC at 803 732-4288 if you have questions or concerns with which we can help.