Tax preparation season presents opportunities for fraud and some are being caught off-guard by consultants who are not what they claim.
The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department Financial Crimes Division has been contacted by victims discovering their tax returns were stolen in the past year. Unwary residents are accepting help from tax preparers who tell them they are not due tax returns. The tax preparers then file claims directing the returns to be sent to their address and are forging victims’ names to collect the refunds.
Later, victims are advised by the Internal Revenue Service or the Georgia Department of Revenue that they received a return or owe money for other reasons.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for low and moderate income families sites include:
United Way of Effingham County, 711 Zitterour Dr., Rincon, GA
Sgt. Edwards suggests residents cautiously engage only licensed, established tax preparers to handle their affairs or seek help from established organizations. The City of Savannah, for example, has sponsored free tax preparation centers through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for low and moderate income families who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Those qualified are families earning less than $50,000 annually.
The Internal Revenue Service also provides help at its main office, and various companies offer assistance for their employees.