DETROIT (WWJ) – ‘Tis the season for tax returns. And the IRS is giving tips for last-minute tax filers.
The main message: Beware of phone and email con-artists looking to steal your personal information; and… if you can’t afford to pay what you owe, call the agency and work to arrange a payment plan.
“It may take me a while to convince people we’re from the IRS and we’re here to help you. But, we really do spend a lot of time trying to help taxpayers in any way that we can,” says John Koskinen, the newly named IRS Commissioner who was in Detroit Thursday as part of a tax awareness tour.
Koskinen touring the 25 largest IRS offices in the country. As for the scams this time of year, the IRS, in fact, out with a list on their website — IRS.gov — of what they call the “Dirty Dozen” or most common scams prevalent this time of year. Tops among them: criminals posing as IRS agents, calling you on the phone.
“We’ll never call you on the phone unless you’ve already gotten one notice or more. So if you’re surprised to hear from us, you’re probably not hearing from us,” says Koskinen.
Koskinen says the thing to do is get a name and number from the caller, hang up and then contact the IRS yourself. Same goes for email scams. The bottom line… the IRS does not make initial contact by phone or email, so be on guard with your personal information.
Also a topic of discussion — the millions of dollars that are owed to state residents that have gone unclaimed. From the 2010 tax season, the money is set to go back to the U.S. Treasury if left unclaimed. It comes from those who might not have filed a return that year, or had taxes withheld but didn’t think they earned enough to file a return. Either way, it’s money on the table, but not for long.
“In Michigan alone our estimate is that there’s about $24-million waiting for about 29,000 people in Michigan who, in effect, paid taxes in 2010 in anticipation of filing and then didn’t file,” says Koskinen.
Meantime, Koskinen says the agency is prepared to audit about 1-million individual returns this year.