IRS TAX SCAMS PERSIST. IS YOUR TAX PREPARER INVOLVED?
IRS tax scammers are still at it. This time, Obamacare customers are being targeted as the enrollment for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act has begun and despite the IRS's continued warnings to consumers about these tax scams and the penalties if people choose not have health insurance. Unscrupulous tax preparers are taking advantage of clients by having them pay certain payments or penalties directly to the preparers, who keep the money, even though most taxpayers do not owe any penalty payments at all (i.e., since they have health insurance coverage).
According to the IRS, the reasons used by these tax preparer scammers to request direct payment from their clients include:
- telling individuals that they must make an individual shared responsibility payment directly to the preparer because of their immigration status
- demanding money from individuals who are exempt from the individual shared responsibility payment
- promising to lower the payment amount if the client pays it directly to the preparer
To assist, the IRS has provided a new, online, searchable public directory of tax preparers who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS or certain other qualifications. Additionally, the IRS has made an Interactive Tax Assistant tool available to help you determine if you qualify for an exemption or owe the individual shared responsibility payment.
It may be hard to believe that a professional you trust with very personal financial information may not be honest and forthright, but you may want to think twice before trusting everything your tax preparer tells you. Ask more questions, and do a little homework. And remember: if you owe any money to the IRS, it should never be paid directly to an individual or tax return preparer.
—By Keobopha Keopong, Esq., Barnes Law
Keo Keopong is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.