Here we are, nearing the end of August, looking September and fall in the face. And that calls for a couple tax-related reminders.
1. If you’re a teacher… you’re a true Worcester County hero, which is why I want to make sure you remember that you can claim up to $300 for any school-related supplies you purchase. I know the amount is a bit dismal considering you probably spent a lot more than that (and you deserve way more for all the hard work you do), but in tax world, every little bit helps. Just hold onto those receipts.
2. If you got an extension for filing your 2022 taxes, this is your friendly reminder that you have a little less than two months to get that wrapped up.
I’m here to help you figure out these and other tax moves (necessary and beneficial):
Another helpful tax move you could make to secure things with your tax standing is an Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN). This isn’t just another “tax tip.” This is something that, in the face of increasing cybercrime and identity theft, is worth looking into.
Digital thieves are set on taking money that isn’t theirs, including yours. And they’ll use your SSN to do it with the IRS, filing fake returns and claiming refunds on your behalf.
So, you have to have some safeguards in place to keep yourself safe from them. That looks like two things today: knowing what scams are out there and knowing more about the IP PIN. Let’s begin.
How an Identity Protection Pin Can Save Worcester County Taxpayers
“Standing in public in other people’s clothes, pretending to be someone else. It’s a strange way for a grown man to make a living.” – James Gandolfini
One of the keys to a good scam is the appearance of legitimacy. And tax scammers have gotten away with a lot by posing as the IRS this summer.
Claiming to be the IRS, these no-gooders promise that 2023 tax refunds are waiting for you, but only if you give your personal information. These scams are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and realistic too. From phishing emails with legitimate-looking IRS logos to phone calls and text messages claiming to be the IRS.
Remember: The IRS will not send any communication by email, phone, or text.
But now, these scam artists are taking things a step further by sending official-looking “IRS” mailings to taxpayers. Since the IRS’s way of communicating with you about your tax standing is by mail, you can see why that’s a bigger problem.
One of the most common tax scams, though, is identity theft where the scammers file as you and lay claim to refunds they’re not entitled to. Just this year, the IRS flagged over a million tax returns as potentially fraudulent with almost 6 billion in refunds associated with those filings.
No thanks to these scammers, if your return gets that flag, you’ll need to do some extra identity verification to prove you should get said refund.
But there is a secondary authentication tool you could use to keep these schemers from filing a return using your SSN. It’s known as an Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN).
Getting an IP PIN
The Identity Protection PIN is a six-digit number assigned to you that is only known between you and the IRS. If you (or someone posing as you) file a return, the IRS will require that number for filing.
To get one, you can use the “Get an IP PIN” tool at IRS.gov. You’ll need to have a registered account in order to use this tool. Once you’ve applied, you’ll receive a letter from the IRS (CP01A) with the IP PIN and directions on using it.
If you have problems getting an IP PIN online, you can also request one by filing this form with the IRS or setting up an in-person appointment to confirm identity (more about that here.) Note: This route takes a lot longer. I recommend applying for it online.
Using it or losing it
When tax time rolls around and you’re ready to file your return, you’ll need to have your IP PIN ready to go (whether filing electronically or on paper). If the IP PIN isn’t provided, your e-file will be rejected (and you’ll be unable to e-file after that) or the paper form will be delayed until your identity can be verified. A great way to keep identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns in your name, but could also pose problems for you if you don’t use it.
If you’ve forgotten your IP PIN, you can retrieve it online (it’ll just take some identity confirmation steps). But if you encounter trouble online, you can give the IRS a call to get one reissued.
Just like the two-factor authentication procedures help prevent people from using your important accounts, so does the IP PIN protect you from fraudsters trying to pose as you with the IRS.
Unfortunately, these days, you have to be vigilant with keeping your information secure from criminal networks looking to take advantage of you. Know what scams are out there and take the precautions necessary to keep you safe.
As a vigilant Worcester County someone who’s looking out for you in the sometimes chaotic world of taxes, I’ll also do everything in my power to make sure you are informed. And also, you should make sure that whoever is handling your tax info is taking the same precautions. If it’s me… that’s always my priority.
Looking out for you,