Identity Theft Feed

It was supposed to be the annual Capitol Hill review of how the current tax filing season is going. It was supposed to be a time for the Internal Revenue Service to shine since, as the IRS commissioner said during a public speech yesterday, it's been the smoothest filing season since he took the top job in December 2013. It wasn't. During a Senate Finance hearing today, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen revealed more details of security breach connected to federal student aid applications that require inclusion of tax data. Student loan tax data security concerns: While 2017 filing season specifics... Read more →


Tax filing must keep evolving. That's the word from Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, who today made his fourth and final appearance as head of the U.S. tax agency before the National Press Club. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen holds a paper Form 1040 during his speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Each event attendee got a souvenir form, complete with a personal "thanks for filing" note penned by the commish. That means, Koskinen told the assembled group of media in Washington, D.C., more digital solutions to taxes. And if tax reform can help achieve that, then... Read more →


Have you made it through April Fools' Day without getting pranked? Good for you. Now be sure you don’t fall for a costly tax scam as the 2017 filing season winds down. Tax criminals are looking to steal identities and then use them to file for fraudulent tax refunds from not just taxpayers, but also the tax preparers who help us file. On Friday, March 31, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax departments and the tax industry — collectively known as the Security Summit, which was formed back in March 2015 to fight growing tax crimes — warned tax professionals... Read more →


The United States and Canada share more than the world's longest undefended border. They also share attacks by cyber criminals on their online tax systems. A sign at the point where the railroad crosses the U.S.-Canada border at Peace Arch Park. This is the westernmost point on the continuous main section of the border. (Photo by Vmenkov via Wikimedia) Canada Revenue Agency’s website was down from the afternoon of Friday, March 10, until 5 p.m. Sunday, March 12, after tax officials discovered the site had a security vulnerability. South of the 49th parallel on Thursday, March 9, the Internal Revenue... Read more →


Have you filed your tax return yet? Neither have I. Neither have millions of Americans. The weekly filing data the Internal Revenue Service delivers during high tax filing season shows that almost all the numbers are behind where filing was at this point last year. Started slow, stayed that way: When filing season kicked off back in late January, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said his agency was expecting 153 million individual tax returns to be filed in 2017. Most of those show up from January through the April deadline, which is on the 18th this year. There's usually a big... Read more →


Remember that assurance from the Internal Revenue Service that its agents never call you about an overdue tax bill. That's changing. A call from a bill collector can seem as terrifying as the one Drew Barrymore received in "Scream." Even worse? A collection agency call about an overdue IRS bill. The IRS is about to turn over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. Again. And those companies' employees, as subcontracting agents of the IRS, will be calling folks about the money they owe the U.S. Treasury. Bill collecting concerns, scams: If you think this opens the door --... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation (CI) division is charged with putting tax and other financial crooks behind bars. That job has gotten tougher, according the man who heads the CI, primarily because of the loss of experienced agents. "We're at the same staffing level as 1956, which is just unbelievable when you think about it," CI Chief Richard Weber said during a press this week in conjunction with the release of the division's 2016 annual report. "There's still no realistic expectation of increasing that number anytime soon. It's very difficult to be able to do everything we are mandated... Read more →


Phishing. Phone scams. Identity theft. Unscrupulous tax preparers. Sound familiar? It should. Those illegal actions once again top the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list of tax scams. Today's tax con artists are the modern day equivalent of yesteryear's snake oil salesmen, hustlers who convinced folks to buy products that could not possibly work as advertised. In all cases, past and present, the victims end up losing their money. ("The Snake Oil Salesman" by Morgan Weistling is available for purchase at Artifacts Gallery. The link to the artwork is not a paid endorsement.) As I noted back on Groundhog's... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


Remember that tax scam last spring where crooks posing as company executives sent emails asking for workers' payroll data? It was the one that fooled lots of folks, including a Milwaukee Bucks employee who thought that the message really did come from the NBA franchise's president. That chagrined Bucks' staffer sent the phishing crook 2015 tax year data on the team's employees, including his rank-and-file colleagues and highly-paid professional basketball players. Well, that tax scam is back. Email spoofs company CEO: The Internal Revenue Service says the email scam is now making its way across the nation for a second... Read more →


Most taxpayers who file federal returns also must do the same for their state taxes. And most those state filings tend to conform to federal laws. That means that, among other things, state deadlines usually are the same as the ones set by the Internal Revenue Service. This year, it also means that state tax refunds, like their federal counterparts, are likely to be later than usual. Feb. 15 delay for certain refunds: Millions of taxpayers who claim the federal Earned Income or additional child tax credits already are dealing with delayed refund checks from Uncle Sam. The IRS is... Read more →


Do you have to file a return? Don't shoot the messenger, but the answer usually is yes. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident who made money last year, whether you must tell the Internal Revenue Service about it depends on three things: Your gross income, Your filing status, and Your age. The IRS created the table below to give you an idea of whether you should start getting your filing material together. A quick filing note for some older New Year's Day babies. The IRS says that if you were born on Jan. 1, 1952, you are considered... Read more →


Tax filing season 2017 opens today! Yes, that is cheering you're hearing. It's from folks who file their taxes early, usually because they are getting refunds. They also are fortunate that they have all the materials they need to fill out their returns. The key document for most taxpayers is their W-2 form. Employers aren't required to get these out until the end of the month, but some companies are quite efficient. And some taxpayers this year are going to discover something new on their W-2s. Verification code addition: Around 50 million of these officially named Wage and Income Statements... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers prepare their own returns using tax software. Even the Internal Revenue Service encourages this do-it-yourself approach with Free File. So it's no surprise that many tax professionals are looking at ways to retain and add to their client base. Unfortunately, crooks know this, too, and are taking advantage with a new phishing scam in which they target accounting and tax preparation firms and pose as potential clients. Instead of looking for help in completing their returns, the cybercrooks are trying to gather sensitive information from tax professionals that the criminals then will use to file fraudulent tax... Read more →


Tax season is here. You know what that means. Tax scams are here in full force. Even before the official 2017 filing season started, the Internal Revenue Service warned tax professionals to be on the lookout (sorry, I know that the BOLO phrase is a touchy one when it comes to the IRS) for yet another tax scam. This one, according to the IRS and its Security Summit partners, is a new e-mail phishing scheme aimed at tax pros that has the subject line "Mails on Hold!" It comes just two months after the crooks tried to get tax preparer... Read more →


There weren't any major tax bills in 2016. That's going to change in some form in 2017 now that the Republicans control Congress and the White House. via GIPHY But there still were plenty of tax-related matters that got attention last year. Below is my list of top 10 tax stories of 2016, starting with the one I saw as most important. And as a bonus, I also pulled out my slightly cracked crystal ball -- really, who saw the presidential election turning out like it did? -- to forecast five tax issues that we're likely to see in 2017.... Read more →


Hello, 2017. For some of us, you sure took your sweet time. Others think you arrived a tad too soon. Few of us, however, are as ready to get our taxes as done-diddly-done as is Ned Flanders, Homer Simpson's annoying cheery neighbor. If you click the image, you'll see a GIF that gives you a good idea of Ned Flanders' obsessive-compulsive tendencies. While even a dedicated tax geek like myself thinks Neddie is a bit too filing gung-ho for the first day of the New Year, we all should take advantage of January's 31 days to get our 2016 taxes... Read more →


Most of us can use some extra cash. That's particularly true during the holiday shopping season. But unfortunately, recent emails I got from two federal financial officials offering unexpected windfalls are fake. Worse, the messages from Jacob Lew and Janet Yellen are identity theft phishing scams. ID theft impersonation scams: I know most of the ol' blog's loyal readers recognize this duo as, respectively, the U.S. Treasury Secretary and the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, popularly known as the Fed. As flattered as I might be to learn that Lew and Yellen follow my... Read more →


Most of us are knee-deep (or deeper!) into holiday tasks, but the Internal Revenue Service thinks it's also a great time to think about security measures that can protect our tax data during the upcoming tax filing season. That's right, smack in the middle of seasonal shopping and parties, it's National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS and its Security Summit partners from the tax software and preparation industry, the tax professionals' community and the state tax world are offering tips this week on scams to be guard against, as well as ways to prevent crooks from stealing our IDs... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service is continuing its Future State efforts to get more of us digitally involved with our taxes. The latest move is a new an online way to check on our tax balances. Essentially, each of us has a taxpayer account with the IRS based on our filings. The online access option introduced last week lets us view our tax account balances, including what we owe in tax and any added penalties and interest. The IRS is hoping that when we digitally discover that we owe Uncle Sam some money, we'll then take advantage of the agency's various... Read more →