Tax fraud Feed

Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, was famous in its heyday, part of which just happened to coincide with my youth, as a wonderful water park. No visit to relatives in nearby San Antonio was complete until we headed to Aquarena to ride in a glass-bottom boat, marvel at the mermaids and cheer Ralph the swimming pig as he made his famous swine dive. Click fish image for full video view of Aquarena Springs from a glass-bottom boat. The park is gone, replaced by a water research program under the auspices of Texas State University, or Southwest Texas State as... 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 →


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 →


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 →


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 →


Taxpayers will be "trusted customers" when they file their tax returns next year. That's how the Internal Revenue Service and its state tax and private sector Security Summit partners are approaching the 2017 filing season. The group, which discussed upcoming security measures at a press conference Nov. 3, says the filing process next year will focus on and expanded features that will help ensure the authenticity of the taxpayer and the tax return. Paris officials last summer removed the love locks from Pont des Arts for safety reasons, but the IRS and its Security Summit partners are adding heavy duty... Read more →


Have you gotten one of those fake Internal Revenue Service agent collection calls lately? If not, you can thank Indian law enforcement agents. Does that "IRS agent" demanding money sound fishy? He's probably a tax scammer. Hang up! (Photo by rocketace via Flickr) Since Indian officials on Oct. 4 raided call centers in Mumbai where many of these scam calls originated, the number of attempts to get folks to make fake tax bill payments has dropped dramatically. BBB sees fewer scam reports: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that the IRS imposter scam had accounted for around a quarter of... Read more →


One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Someone just became an identity theft victim. The stealing of an individual's personal data happens every two seconds. That alarming criminal frequency was part of an Internal Revenue Service presentation on ID theft and tax refund fraud during the agency's Nationwide Tax Forum this week in National Harbor, Maryland, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. The good news, from a tax standpoint, is that that most of those 30* ID thefts per minute are by crooks seeking credit card information. In fact, credit card related identity theft has been the #1 complaint on the Federal... Read more →


Cyber criminals are getting added attention this week in the wake of Democratic National Committee emails that hackers stole and then leaked to the world. But the Internal Revenue Service has been concerned about hackers for a while. It formalized its cyber security worries last year with the creation of its Security Summit, a coalition of federal and states tax officials, as well as the tax industry. One of the Security Summit's goals is to alert and tax professionals about tax identity theft threats and encourage their involvement in fighting the electronic epidemic. The most recent IRS warning was to... Read more →


Victims of tax identity theft must use a special tax number when they file since their Social Security number has been appropriated by crooks. This new six-digit tax ID is known as the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN. Others who aren't ID theft victims, but who want to use that number instead of their nine-digit Social Security ID for added security when they file, also can opt in to the program. But that option has been on hold for months because, you got it, concerns about tax identity thieves hacking into Internal Revenue Service systems. Now the... Read more →


The United States of America tomorrow will celebrate 240 years since independence was declared. Here's wishing all my fellow Americans a safe and fun July 4, especially since our break from Britain was based in large part on the battle cry that "Taxation without representation is tyranny." But another important date arrived just a few days earlier. On July 1, the first of the Baby Boomers turned 70½. Judging by this cake's flames, this guy looks to be a bit older than 70½. That half birthday date is crucial because it means owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional IRAs... Read more →


Taxpayer security, despite some recent issues, actually is improving. That's the word from the Internal Revenue Service and its private sector Security Summit partners Tax crooks tried to claim $1.1 billion in fraudulent refunds on 171,000 returns this latest main tax-filing season, the IRS announced at a press conference this morning. But the agency caught those fake returns filed from January through April before any money was sent to the identity thieves. That's an improvement over the prevention rate the year before, when the IRS stopped $754 million in fraudulent refunds claimed on 141,000 fake returns. The improved identification of... Read more →


Hackers continue to assault the Internal Revenue Service's online options, forcing the agency to shut down yet another website tool. Another automated bot hacking attempt by identity thieves has forced the IRS to stop issuing e-file PINs. On Thursday, June 23, the IRS announced that taxpayers can no longer obtain an electronic filing personal identification number, or e-file PIN, at either IRS.gov or even via phone. And due to growing identity theft and tax refund fraud threats, the shutdown of the e-file ID option might be permanent. Who needs an e-file PIN? Some taxpayers use an e-file PIN to verify... Read more →


Sometimes you just have to feel sorry for the Internal Revenue Service. The federal tax agency finally brings its Get Transcript online service back fully online after more than a year and BAM! It gets smacked. Click image to go to the new, more secure Get Transcript website. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today issued a report charging that that the IRS missed some taxpayers whose information fell into criminal hands in last year's Get Transcript hack. What the crooks were after: The online Get Transcript tool, which now requires a tougher, two-step authentication process in order to... Read more →