Last Updated: April 20, 2009
April 15th, the Internal Revenue System (IRS) tax filing deadline, has come and gone. And if you're like most taxpayers, you're searching for ways to trim your tax bill in hopes of paying less or certainly no more than your fair share next April.
To be sure, there are plenty of legitimate ways to cut your tax bill. There are also plenty of folks trying to help you lower your tax bill illegally.
"Taxpayers should be wary of scams to avoid paying taxes that seem too good to be true, especially during these challenging economic times," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a release. "There is no secret trick that can eliminate a person's tax obligations. People should be wary of anyone peddling any of these scams."
According to the IRS, tax schemes are illegal and can lead to problems for both scam artists and taxpayers who risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution. For 2009, the IRS suggests that you beware of these 12 tax scams:
- Hiding income offshore
- Filing false or misleading forms
- Abuse of charitable organizations and deductions
- Return prepare fraud
- Frivolous arguments
- False claims for refund and requests for abatement
- Abusive retirement plans
- Disguised corporate ownership
- Zero wages
- Misuse of trusts
- Fuel tax credit scams
Learn more about the IRS' list of dirty dozen tax scams.
One scam worth noting given its popularity of late is "phishing." According to the IRS, "phishing is a tactic used by Internet-based scam artists to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal or financial information. These criminals use the information to steal the victim's identity, access bank accounts, run up credit card charges or apply for loans in the victim's name." Learn more about phishing.
You can report any suspected tax fraud to the IRS using Form 3949-A, Information Referral. This form is available for download from the IRS Web site at IRS.gov. Whistleblowers also may provide allegations of fraud to the IRS and may be eligible for a reward by filing Form 211, Application for Award for Original Information, and following the procedures outlined in Notice 2008-4, Claims Submitted to the IRS Whistleblower Office under Section 7623.