How familiar are you with “the Dirty Dozen?” For some, that phrase may bring back memories of an adolescent game where jokes are passed among two contestants. Others may recall the 1967 movie directed by Robert Aldrich. We’re not talking about either one of those dozens. This “Dirty Dozen” comes straight from the Internal Revenue Service, with intentions of helping taxpayers protect themselves.
The IRS recently released its annual “Dirty Dozen” for 2012, a list of tax schemes that taxpayers should be aware of to avoid falling victim to identity theft and return preparer fraud. Many of the scams that appear on the list occur year-round, but tend to peak during tax season. These schemes carry hefty fines and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division works closely with the Department of Justice to stop scams prosecute those behind them.
“Taxpayers should be careful and avoid falling into a trap with the Dirty Dozen,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “Scam artists will tempt people in-person, on-line and by e-mail with misleading promises about lost refunds and free money. Don’t be fooled by these scams.”
And now…this year’s Dirty Dozen:
- Identity Theft
- Return Preparer Fraud
- Hiding Income Offshore
- “Free Money” and Social Security Scams
- False/Inflated Income and Expenses
- False Form 1099 Refund Claims
- Frivolous Arguments
- Falsely Claiming Zero Wages
- Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions
- Disguised Corporate Ownership
- Misuse of Trusts
Many of these schemes target low income and elderly individuals, while others encourage taxpayers to provide false information when filing taxes. The IRS has set up several resources to help educate and protect taxpayers against the penalties and consequences of the Dirty Dozen. Some of these resources include the IRS identity theft page, information about phishing, more information on the Dirty Dozen and IRS Dirty Dozen videos, available in English, Spanish and ASL.
Anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to any of these schemes should contact the IRS immediately at (800) 829-1040.