Charity fund-raising reached a peak during the holiday season. Friends and family made donations in your name, and charities appealed for help at every corner and in every day’s mail. We wanted to give you some advice to understand the complex IRS rules. With tax season in full swing, many charitable contributions are deductible and we want to make sure you know about them.
Beat The Clock
Donations must be made before Dec. 31st. If you mail a check make sure you mail it a few days early so the Postal Service has time to postmark the envelope. A donation made by credit card is deductible in the year the charge is incurred even though you may not pay the bill until the following year.
With tax season come tax scams. Lets face it. Scam artists are after your tax refunds and they are trying to get to your money before you do.
Here are the top tax scams we have heard of over the last couple years.
Phone scams – Criminals are targeting specific groups of people, for example, retirees. The criminals call with threats of police arrests or license revocation in order to strong-arm many elderly people into “paying their taxes.” The IRS does not call about taxes owed without first sending you a bill in the mail. Be wary of phone calls demanding payment for taxes.
Phishing – Fake emails can be sent and phony websites can be established to make it seem legitimate. But the intent is to steal your information. That can lead to identity theft and stealing your tax refund.
Return Preparer Fraud – Each tax season criminals set up shop as tax preparers with the intention of stealing your information and getting to your refund money before you do. If dozens of people go these dishonest tax prepares, hundreds of thousands of dollars can be collected before any of the victims realize their refund was taken. These criminals can also entice people by promising an inflated tax refund, but then they ask you to sign a blank return or they may charge a fee based on the percentage of a refund. Tip: Always ask to see the IRS’s Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
Offshore Tax Avoidance – Hiding assets offshore can lead to significant tax penalties and even criminal prosecution.
Fake Charities – There are groups of criminals who like to masquerade as charities in order to get donations from unsuspecting tax payers.
Hiding Income with Fake Documents – Avoid tax prepares who even suggest falsifying documents to reduce tax bills or to inflate a refund.
We want to make everyone aware of these scams. We hope they don’t happen to you. Feel free to share these with friends and family. You could help someone.