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Archives for January 2015

Tax Season can also be Scam Season

Recently a few PRM clients have been the target of some very brash and sinister scam artists posing as IRS affiliates. In over 40 years as a CPA it is easy for me to recognize an IRS scam, but the sophistication of the latest scams is alarming.

Tax-related fraud plays on your natural inclination to avoid trouble with official agencies. A practiced con artist armed with a script and the element of surprise can often create understandable confusion and fear, but it is important to consider these points:

Tip-offs to an IRS scam:

An unexpected phone call. The IRS makes initial contact regarding tax issues in a written letter, sent to you via U.S. postal mail.

The threat of arrest. Warnings of arrest or other police action are designed to frighten you into agreeing to send money or disclose personal financial information such as your social security number. Local police departments will not threaten to arrest you for federal tax- related issues.

Request for immediate payment. If you actually owe money for any type of federal tax, payment options are available. You’ll receive notices in the mail detailing the amount due and you’ll have time to respond.

Payment via prepaid debit card. The IRS does not require you to purchase prepaid cards to pay any tax you may owe, and will not call to ask for personal identification numbers.

It is important to know that the IRS is aware and concerned about the many varieties of tax fraud and therefore operates in a predictable manner.  It is essential to consider the following points when in contact with the IRS:

• The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail or social media to request financial information. The IRS never asks taxpayers for detailed personal financial information.  So if you receive what looks like an official IRS e-mail, you should forward it to phishing@irs.gov. Do not reply to the sender, and do not open any attachments.

• The address of the official IRS website is www.irs.gov; don’t be misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org, or anything else.

• If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS or directing you to an IRS site, do not reply to the message, open any attachments, or click on any links.

• To help the IRS fight identity theft and refund fraud, report any bogus correspondence and forward any suspicious e-mail to phishing@irs.gov.

How can you protect yourself?

• Advance warning gives you an advantage. Being aware of tax fraud schemes makes it likely you’ll recognize common techniques used by fraudsters, such as threats, multiple calls, and repeated demands for an immediate decision.

• If you choose to contact the IRS directly concerning the call, do not use the phone number the caller gave you. Why? In this latest scam, the number provided will connect you with another con artist in the same organization.

• Be assertive. You have no obligation to answer your phone, engage in conversation, or provide information to anyone who calls you. Let contacts from unknown numbers go to voicemail. If you do answer and the caller’s requests make you uncomfortable, disconnecting immediately is neither rude nor impolite.

PRM is here to keep you safe and informed, our Partners and staff are available to assist you any time you are contacted about your tax information.

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Almost Time to File

As income tax filing season begins, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • On December 29, the IRS announced that the 2015 filing season of 2014 returns will begin on January 20, 2015, a week and a half earlier than the start dates for 2013 and 2012. On that day the IRS will open electronic filing and begin processing paper returns.
  • The IRS expects the number of taxpayers eFiling their returns will continue to grow. Taxpayers expecting a refund who eFile returns should anticipate receiving their refunds within 3 weeks of IRS acknowledgement of the return, whereas paper filers generally must wait 6 to 8 weeks from the time the return is filed.
  • In late December, Congress decided to extend many provisions of the tax law that expired at the end of 2013, including many deduction provisions, valuable for many businesses and individuals.
  • Be on the lookout for new Form 1095-B’s that will be coming from your insurance provider indicating your insurance coverage for 2014. Your tax preparer will need this form to verify coverage so you will not be subject to penalties required under the Affordable Car Act for individuals without health insurance.
  • Get your information in early. Most documents should be available to you by the end of January. As soon as you have all of the documents together you should give them to your tax preparer to get your return preparation underway.

If you have questions about the extender provisions, the Affordable Care Act, or other questions about your income taxes, I would be more than happy to spend a few minutes discussing them with you.

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CPAs don’t blog, right?

You’re right, when most people describe their CPA the word “blogger” generally does not come to mind.  Maybe “number cruncher” or “bean counter,” but rarely “blogger.”

Well, our goal at Prejean Romero McGee (PRM) is to work outside of the so-called “CPA box” so welcome to our blog!

We believe a blog goes hand in hand with our culture of innovation and continual growth.  Our goal in blogging is to provide timely and useful tax information to the general public.  We will answer questions frequently received from clients, business associates and friends relating to tax matters simple and complex.

At PRM continuous improvement is a constant pursuit.  Whether it is ongoing continuing education, the latest technologies or superior staff, we always strive to advance in order to best serve our clients.

Cheers to a prosperous new year.  We look forward to receiving blog questions and topic suggestions from you.  Please submit to marcus@prmcpa.com

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