The 2023 tax season is officially underway: taxpayers can now start filing their 2022 tax returns, with the filing deadline set for April 18.
As Americans prepare to file their taxes, it’s also a good time to be mindful of the scams that are likely to pop up surrounding tax refunds.
Below are tips from experts for taxpayers to keep handy for the duration of tax season.
File early, get refunds early
The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has worked to make the filing process easier for taxpayers this year. The agency has added both in-person and virtual help for taxpayers needing assistance, hiring over 5,000 new telephone representatives for this tax season.
“We continue to increase IRS staffing to help provide taxpayers with the information and assistance they need,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Dough O’Donnell. “The IRS reminds taxpayers to take some important steps when filing their tax returns for a smoother process. They should gather their necessary tax records, file an accurate return electronically, and choose direct deposit to get their refunds faster.”
To increase the chances of getting your return in as timely a fashion as possible, the IRS has two key recommendations: file taxes electronically and make sure all information on your return is accurate. With both of those things, taxpayers should anticipate receiving their refunds in roughly three weeks.
The IRS also offers Free File to any taxpayer who earned $73,000 or less in 2022. The software provides guided tax preparation for taxpayers to file their federal taxes for free.
Protect yourself from tax refund scams
With tax season comes a higher risk of falling victim to scams. While scam phone calls are likely to surge in the coming weeks, consumers should also prepare for scams to come via email and text messages.
Scammers are likely to contact taxpayers pretending to be the IRS, asking for information like Social Security numbers or personal tax identification numbers. With that, they can then either apply for credit cards or take out loans under your name – or steal your tax refund.
However, in other instances, scammers can also steal taxpayers’ identities to file fraudulent tax returns, ultimately stealing the refund in that way.
Perhaps the biggest thing to know here is that the IRS isn’t likely to communicate with taxpayers in any virtual medium. This includes phone calls, text messages, or emails.
Should the IRS need additional information, or have questions about your account, all correspondence will come via the U.S. Mail.
Additionally, the IRS will never demand that taxpayers make payments without also giving them the chance to appeal such charges.
Experts encourage consumers to remain vigilant in the face of such scams. Tax scams can be reported to the Hotline for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.