For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Scammers use victims to file false tax returns and steal refunds
Hartford – Connecticut Commissioner of Revenue Services Kevin B. Sullivan today issued a new warning for taxpayers about scams by people who pose as tax preparers and promise large refunds via the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Said Commissioner Sullivan, “Last November, I encouraged taxpayers to file their returns as early as possible to prevent identity thieves from stealing their refunds. I also warned about predatory tax preparers who would trick taxpayers into filing fraudulent returns. Today, I am again telling taxpayers who have not filed to carefully scrutinize the person they hire to prepare their tax returns.”
Commissioner Sullivan’s warning comes as the IRS releases its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, which again includes schemes similar to this that promise “free government money.”
Commissioner Sullivan said the scammers may operate out of a storefront and may appear to be legitimate tax preparers that recently opened for business. Some scammers lure victims in with street corner signs or flyers. Victims who respond are promised large refunds and asked to provide their personal and financial information, which is then used to file a false claim with the IRS, sometimes without the victim even knowing what was filed.
“What is most upsetting about this type of scam,” said Commissioner Sullivan, “is that the scheme mainly targets low-income and non-English-speaking people who usually don’t have a tax filing requirement.”
While honest tax preparers provide their customers a copy of the tax return they have prepared, victims of this scam typically are not given a copy of what was filed. Often the fraudulent refund is deposited into the scammer’s bank account and they deduct a large “fee” before cutting a check to the victim, a practice not used by legitimate tax preparers.
Commissioner Sullivan reminds all taxpayers that they are legally responsible for what’s on their returns even if it was prepared by someone else. Taxpayers who buy into such schemes can end up being penalized for filing false claims or receiving fraudulent refunds.
To help taxpayers find a reputable person or company to file their returns, Commissioner Sullivan offered the following advice:
Commissioner Sullivan also advised low-income taxpayers that free income tax preparation is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Locations can be found by calling Infoline 211.
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