If you haven’t filed yet, this is not the year to procrastinate. As I reported this week, the IRS said that threatening and aggressive phone calls by someone impersonating an IRS agent take the top spot in its annual list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams.
The Federal Trade Commission said it received 109,063 complaints last year about tax-identity theft. It received 54,690 complaints about IRS imposter scams, up substantially from the 2,545 scams reported in 2013.
So what should you do if you try to file your tax return and realize someone else — a crook — has beat you to it and received a refund based on fraudulent return? The Washington Post’s Jonnelle Marte provides a road map to help if you’ve been a victim of tax fraud.
One of the first things you should do is report it, Marte says. “Fake tax returns need to be reported directly to the identity protection division of the IRS. Victims need to fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit to create an alert on their account,” she writes.
You should also check your credit reports. If someone has enough information to file a fake return, they have enough to cause other damage to your credit history.
Color of Money Question of the Week
What drives you nuts about tax season? Send your comments to email@example.com. Put “Taxing Season” in the subject line.
New to you this tax season
Looking for a nice roundup of tax issues you need to know about? Then check out the New York Times’s Jan M. Rosen’s tips for navigating the 2015 tax season.
“What’s new this tax season? In a word: Obamacare. That’s the answer given by many tax professionals,” writes Rosen, who provides tips on deductions for job hunting, state sales tax and medical expenses.
If you’ve got a question about your refund, check out these most frequently asked questions posted by the IRS.
And Jim T. Miller, writing for the Huffington Post, provides a rundown of the IRS filing requirements for this tax season.
Tax challenges for gay couples
It’s a challenging tax season for some married gay couples.
“This tax season is particularly bitter for gays and lesbians who live in states that still don’t recognize same-sex marriage,” writes Ben Steverman for Bloomberg. “After decades together, many are filing their first joint tax returns. In a growing number of states, this is easy: An additional 20 states have legalized same-sex marriage since the beginning of 2014. But in Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, and nine other states, gay couples are still treated as legal strangers. They face extra paperwork, heftier tax-prep fees, and tax questions that puzzle even the experts.”
Steverman profiles one couple who have to file five tax returns. “First, they complete a joint, official federal return that they’ll file with the IRS,” he writes. “Then, they must each fill out — but not file — a federal return as if they were single people, shadow returns they’ll use to prepare their state tax returns.”