By Brian Ravencraft
It is nearing the month of March, which means tax season is well underway. We call it “busy season” in the accounting biz, and let me tell you… it lives up to the nickname.
As accountants we worry about many things on behalf of our clients. We want to keep them compliant, help them file on time or secure an extension. Of course, we want to save them as much money as we can. The list goes on and on. At the top of that list is always keeping their information safe and secure. From financial information to data related to their identity, it all must be protected from the scams we see not only during tax season, but year-round.
For the purposes of this article, let’s take a look at the fraud you want to bypass during filing season. The IRS has a comprehensive list of tips on their website that all taxpayers should pay close attention to. This goes for anyone using an accountant to file or filing on their own using software, etc. Review this list from the IRS below:
- Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
- Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.
- Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
- Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. All taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
- Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
- Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
- The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up, it’s a scam!
- Don’t respond to or click links in text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
- Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.
- Report fraud to law enforcement if you suspect an individual or a business is committing fraud.
I hope this information helps you stay safe this filing season. As always, reach out to me with any concerns or questions you may have.
Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA is a Principal with Holbrook & Manter, CPAs. Brian has been with Holbrook & Manter since 1995, primarily focusing on the areas of Tax Consulting and Management Advisory Services within several firm service areas, focusing on agri-business and closely held businesses and their owners. Holbrook & Manter is a professional services firm founded in 1919 and we are unique in that we offer the resources of a large firm without compromising the focused and responsive personal attention that each client deserves. You can reach Brian through www.agribusinessaccounting.com or www.HolbrookManter.com.