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Don't Be Fooled By These Popular Tax Scams

James H. Dimmitt -- This information holds true all year round, not just during tax season. Plain and simple, there is no secret way to avoid paying taxes.

"Pay less taxes"

"We can teach you how to avoid paying Federal Taxes"

"We'll show you how to get a bigger tax refund...for just $29"

Now that tax season is here beware of scam artists who appear to want to help you keep your money, when in fact they are stealing it right from under your nose.

Worse yet, taxpayers can face heavy fines, payment of taxes owed with interest and penalties, and even imprisonment for taking part in these scams.

Here is a list of the "dirty dozen" tax scams which the IRS urges you to avoid:

1) Offshore transactions

Use of an offshore account, trust, or other arrangement to hide income or claim false deductions is illegal.

2) Identity theft

Beware of any suspicious letter from a bank requesting you to verify personal information in relation to your taxes. It may be a trick to try to defraud you and steal your identity.

3) Phony tax payment checks

Con artists will try to sell false checks to use to make your tax payment. These checks have no financial value and are worthless.

4) Slavery Reparation Credit

There is no such credit due to African-American taxpayers as reparations for slavery. Beware of anyone offering to prepare your taxes who offers to file this credit for an additional fee. The IRS reports that this was the #1 scam of 2002.

5) No taxes withheld from wages

It is illegal to ask your employer not to withhold federal income tax from your wages. This scheme is based on an invalid interpretation of tax laws.

6) Improper home-based business

You cannot deduct personal expenses and try to pass them off as business related expenses by setting up a "bogus" home-based business.

7) You've won a prize!

But you have to pay the taxes first -- a caller will inform you that you've won a fabulous prize, but in order to claim it you must pay the income tax due on the prize's value. Baloney! Any taxes due for winning a prize are payable to the IRS, not the company or person offering the prize.

8) The Secret That Lets You Not Pay Taxes, only $49.95

There is no secret way not to pay taxes. The U.S. courts have shown such arguments to be frivolous no matter what you've heard about taxes being "voluntary".

9) Social Security tax scheme

In this scam someone will offer to get you a refund of your Social Security taxes or overpayment for a fee and a percentage of the refund. There is no such thing as overpayment of social security taxes or a refund due to taxpayers.

10) Bigger refund for a fee

Don't believe anyone who offers to help you get a bigger refund, especially without knowledge of your tax situation.

11) Sharing or borrowing earned income tax credit (EITC)

It it illegal to split or share legitimate EITC in order to get the maximum credit allowed.

12) Home collection of taxes due

Beware of anyone claiming to be an "agent" of the IRS and visiting your home to collect your tax payment. A legitimate agent of the IRS will carry a picture ID and normally call before any such visit. Also the IRS does not go door to door to collect payments.

More information about tax scams and schemes is available at the IRS home page Taxpayers who suspect tax fraud should contact the IRS hotline at 1-800-829-0433

Plain and simple there is no secret way to avoid paying taxes.

James is editor of "To Your Credit," a free weekly newsletter with tips to help you manage your personal finances. Subscribe today and receive his ebook Identity Theft -- How To Avoid Becoming the Next Victim! and other free bonuses by visiting

© 2006 James Dimmitt

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