There were close to 17 million instances of identity theft in recent years, and a good amount of these are the result of tax fraud. The hassle, frustration and pain of identity theft are nearly indescribable. People who have been caught up on identity theft schemes can spend years or even decades trying to undo the damage. Combining identity theft with tax problems is just unfair.
If something seems odd about your tax return or you are receiving collection calls from an IRS agent that make you uncomfortable, go with your gut.
Something probably is wrong.
Tax-related identity theft is more common than you may realize. In 2015 alone, there were 18 million instances of this.
The process for a typical person to undo the damage of tax-related identity fraud is a complex mess of IRS red tape. This is where you can benefit from having our proven tax attorneys on your side. We have 40 years of experience and have established an effective relationship with the IRS.
You can rely to us to investigate your situation and determine whether someone has stolen your identity or filed a fraudulent tax return. If it has happened, we will make sure the IRS flags your account and doesn’t allow any further funny business to occur.
WHEN YOU HIRE US, WE CAN HELP YOU:
First things first, you need to be fully able to point out instances of identity theft. There are always some telltale signs that your information might have been compromised. Here are a few of the major signs that you might have an identity theft issue on your hands:
Protecting your social security number (SSN) is of the utmost importance if you are trying to prevent identity theft.
When someone gets access to your social security number, multiple returns will inevitably be filed. In these situations, either you accidentally filed a duplicate, or someone else filed a fraudulent return in your name.
If you’ve received word that there was a return filed on your Social Security Number (SSN), you need to be vigilant in taking action and finding out what’s going on.
Never pay a tax bill without thoroughly reviewing it.
By just accepting an account at face value, you might miss the fact that you owe money for taxes that weren’t yours. Owed money from years you didn’t file is one of the biggest red flags that something is off.
Do your due diligence to keep tax records on file so that you are able to quickly pinpoint a discrepancy as it happens.
Income that doesn’t match up will always draw red flags with the IRS.
Know what you earned this year from all your income streams. Whether this means rounding your W-2 forms or piecing together various 1099 forms, you’ll need to be able to correct or dispute any listed income that doesn’t appear to be yours.
You will definitely be able to point out these income discrepancies if the gap between what you actually earned and what the IRS says you owe is tremendous.
Many fraudulent tax filers carry out scams to get themselves a hefty return by using your social security number and name. When you keep track of your actual income it’ll be much easier to spot these differences.
The last thing you want during tax time is to get hit with tax penalties when the IRS finds something amiss with your return. In this regard, some fraudulent return investigations are as much about clearing your name as they are to hold the identity theft accountable.
When you get a letter from the IRS saying that your return is suspicious, you’ll definitely want to take action.
First off, make note that the IRS will only send you this sort of correspondence in the form of a letter. If you are getting a phone call or text message, you may be getting hit with a tax scam.
Once you get the letter from the IRS, be sure that you carefully read through the breakdown of what exactly drew their suspicion. Usually, you’ll be able to tell right away if something that they mention doesn’t look like it came from your tax return.
Take this correspondence seriously and take the next steps once you get this letter from the IRS.
There are a number of reasons why a tax return can get rejected, and identity theft ranks high on the list.
When you get your return rejected because the IRS says there’s a duplicate return on file, this is usually a surefire sign that your identity has been stolen. In some situations, the return itself will be denied, and in other situations, the check that you send to pay for your return might get rejected.
If your tax return is compromised, you will most likely start getting calls from creditors you don’t recognize.
When someone has your social security number, they most likely will also open up accounts outside of the tax return filing. Be vigilant when you hear about any account that doesn’t sound legitimate.
If your identity was stolen, it might also affect your medical claims.
Claims get denied all the time when you have problems with your social security number or other personal information. Be sure you get thorough information from your insurance provider if a claim gets denied.
Keep tabs on your bank account and look into any withdrawals that you didn’t authorize.
If you notice large debits or electronic funds transfers (EFT) that you didn’t sign off on, your identity could already be compromised. Consider banking with a financial institution that has plenty of safeguards in place to block these or to tip you off as soon as they occur.
Now that you know some of the telltale signs of tax-based identity theft, it’s time to understand exactly what sort of implications it can have. In addition to stalling your taxes, consider some of these headaches:
Be ready for tax fraud investigations to take some time. You’ll need to be patient during these investigations, and the frustration can pile up. Every second that you’re spending dealing with a tax investigation is time that your taxes aren’t filed, which can be stressful in itself. When you have to undergo an investigation, it’ll take a lot of attention, diligence, and resources — all of which require patience.
Once you’re triggering tax red flags, you can expect to have your bank accounts compromised also.
This is especially true if your tax return EFT or check bounced. When these situations happen, it’s often wise to close accounts or cancel debit cards in order to protect your finances.
Having to close accounts can be aggravating — especially if you have bills or automatic payments tied to a checking account, credit card or debit card. Be sure that you take inventory of each account so that you can close and replace them as needed.
It’s an unfortunate fact that once someone has stolen your social security number, it’s often more than just a one-off event.
For instance, social security number information is often sold on the dark web and the black market. Because of this, you will need to be vigilant about other identity theft issues moving forward — especially when tax time rolls around again.
A hijacked tax return can put you in debt and throw your finances out of whack. When your identity is stolen for tax reasons, it’s usually so that someone can steal your return. This can be beyond frustrating if you were counting on that money to do something with it.
Rather than letting someone get away with stealing your tax refund, you should aggressively pursue action and begin the investigation.
It’s up to you to take the right steps to make sure you’re reporting identity theft accordingly. This way, you can start the investigation off on the right note, and can fix the situation quickly. Follow these steps so that you can get the ball rolling:
Immediately get in touch with the IRS when you think you’ve been the victim of tax identity theft.
You’ll need to get in touch with the IRS in written form so that you can report the issue and have a paper trail for your records. Start by writing the IRS letting them know that you are aware of the situation and that you plan to take every avenue to clear it up.
It might make sense to get the letter notarized so that you are able to have a witness and ensure that the correspondence is official.
The IRS also has forms in place that you can use in order to report these situations. For instance, Form 14157 is in place so that you can report any sort of fraudulent activity from your tax return.
Do your due diligence so that you are able to get documentation of the fraudulent return so that you can rectify things accordingly.
The IRS can feel like a faceless organization if you don’t do your research. Once you make initial correspondence with the IRS, take the time to find out which agent is handling your situation.
That way, you’ll know who specifically to follow up with, and can get a direct line phone number that you can reach them at.
After you start the preliminary investigation, the IRS will touch base with you and let you know how they’ll proceed.
Your agent will give you a timetable for the investigation, and will likely follow up via phone to confirm the details of your claim. From there, they will touch base and update you on your claims of tax fraud.
By addressing your bank accounts and credit cards, you decrease the chance of further identity theft. Because EFTs from identity theft can still be taken out of your checking account, you’ll want to get ahead of the curve and close the account, rather than having to dispute charges. Closing the account upfront will relieve you of these problems as you get your issues in order.
When you have the help of a tax lawyer, they can address any problems you’re having with fraudulent tax filings and identity theft. They have resources that can help you get to the bottom of any problems and can expedite an investigation.
Reach out to some tax specialists that can assist you. Look into their prior work and ask about what sorts of cases they take on. This way, you know that you’ll get special help for your tax fraud investigation.
Depending on what you need, hiring a tax lawyer can cost you between $200 per hour and $450 per hour, so ask around until you find the best lawyers to help you in your case.
Do your due diligence when reaching out to an attorney and you will have the chance to protect yourself from identity theft, and take action in the event that someone actually does steal your identity.
Fraudulent tax returns are commonplace in a time that identity theft is on the rise. When a tax return bounces back due to supposed duplicates, or other problems arise, it’s a red flag that tips you off that someone has stolen your identity. You can handle this sort of issue in the right way when you consider the tips above.
We can help you out. If you need help with tax fraud investigations, contact us today.
No matter where you are in the process, we can help you make the best of your situation.
Need Tax Help? See If You Qualify For an IRS Hardship Program
IRS trouble can be frustrating and intimidating. Schedule a consultation to find out if you qualify for an IRS hardship program – it only takes a few minutes!
Don’t worry, our consultations are 100% Confidential & 100% Free