As tax season gets underway, Attorney General Letitia James has issued a warning to taxpayers, advising them to stay vigilant against fraudulent tax schemes. The attorney general is urging New Yorkers to report any suspected scams to her office, as bad actors often use deceptive tactics to steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims.
In a statement, Attorney General James said, “Tax season can be a stressful time of year, and the last thing any New Yorker needs is the added concern of dealing with scammers. I encourage all those filing taxes to stay vigilant, follow the tips from my office, and contact us immediately if you believe you have been targeted or victimized by a scam.”
New Yorkers are being warned to watch out for common scams, including fraudsters claiming that taxpayers owe past tax debts and insisting on payment via prepaid credit card or gift card. Legitimate government officials and agencies do not seek to collect debts through these means. Taxpayers should also be wary of unsolicited calls, text messages, or emails asking for personal information or to verify financial account information.
Attorney General James also warns against tax preparers who deceptively claim to get taxpayers their refunds more quickly and then charge high interest rates and fees. She advises consumers to use established companies for tax-preparation services and to review the entire tax return before signing it.
To help New Yorkers file their tax returns safely and avoid scams, Attorney General James is offering the following tips:
- Legitimate government organizations will never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt and will never insist that consumers pay a debt only via a prepaid credit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
- Only use established companies for tax-preparation services, and always review the entire tax return before signing it.
- Ensure that any offers you receive on “free” tax preparation services are actually legitimate and free of charge, such as the IRS’ Free Filing program.
- There are Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, where consumers can get their tax returns prepared free of charge.
- If using a tax preparer, check the person’s qualifications and history through the Better Business Bureau. You should ensure that they sign the tax form and include their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) upon completion. Also ensure that you are given a statement of the tax services provided and pay close attention to any extra fees or interests.
New Yorkers who suspect that they are a victim of a scam are encouraged to report it to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) by submitting a complaint online or calling 800-771-7755. Tax scams should also be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
This latest warning is part of Attorney General James’ efforts to protect consumers from fraudulent tax schemes and practices. In May 2022, she secured $141 million for millions of Americans who were deceived by TurboTax into paying for tax services that should have been free. Earlier last year in March 2022, she issued a notice to ensure New York cryptocurrency investors were informed about their tax obligations. In March 2021, she shut down a deceptive telefunding charity and ensured that future efforts to raise money would clearly inform New Yorkers that such donations are not tax deductible.
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