Real Estate Tax Talk
Real Estate Tax Talk
Here's an easy way for an identity thief to make money: Use the victim's Social Security number to file a forged tax return and claim a refund.
The fake return is usually filed early in the tax season, before the real return is filed. You may be unaware that this has happened until you file your return later in the filing season and discover that two returns have been filed using the same Social Security number.
The Internal Revenue Service is well aware of this problem and is trying stop it. Last week, as part of a stepped-up effort against refund fraud and identity theft, the IRS and the U.S. Justice Department conducted a massive national sweep targeting suspected identity thieves.
The IRS has also stepped up its internal reviews to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued.
How do you know if you're an IRS identity theft victim?
One way is if you receive an IRS notice or letter stating that:
If you believe someone may have used your Social Security number fraudulently, notify the IRS immediately by responding to the name and number printed on the notice or letter. You will need to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit: Form 14039.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
How to reduce the chance of becoming a victim
The IRS recommends that you take the following stops to reduce the chance of becoming an identity theft victim:
Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including "Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants," "Deduct It," "Working as an Independent Contractor," and "Working with Independent Contractors." He welcomes your questions for this weekly column.
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