The Internal Revenue Service offers the following seven tips to help taxpayers avoid an emerging scheme tempting senior citizens and other taxpayers to file tax returns claiming fraudulent refunds.
These schemes promise refunds to people who have little or no income and normally don't have a tax filing requirement.
Promoters claim they can obtain for their victims, often senior citizens, a tax refund or nonexistent stimulus payment based on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, even if the victim was not enrolled in or paying for college.
Con artists falsely claim that refunds are available even if the victim went to school decades ago. In many cases, scammers are targeting seniors, people with very low incomes and members of church congregations with bogus promises of free money.
A variation of this scheme also falsely claims the college credit is available to compensate people for paying taxes on groceries.
These schemes can be quite costly for victims. Promoters may charge exorbitant upfront fees to file these claims and are often long gone when victims discover they've been scammed.
Taxpayers should be careful of these scams because, regardless of who prepared their tax return, the taxpayer is legally responsible for the accuracy of their tax return and must repay any refunds received in error, plus any penalties and interest. They may even face criminal prosecution.
To avoid becoming ensnared in these schemes, the IRS says taxpayers should beware of any of the following:
In recent weeks, the IRS has identified and stopped an upsurge of these bogus refund claims coming in from across the United States. The IRS is actively investigating the sources of this scheme, and its promoters can be subject to criminal prosecution.
To get the facts on tax benefits related to education, go the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center on this website.
November 2 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax.
File Form 941 for the third quarter of 2015. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full, you have until November 10 to file the return.
November 2 — Certain small employers
Deposit any undeposited tax if your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2015 but less than $2,500 for the third quarter.
November 2 — Federal unemployment tax
Deposit the tax owed through September if more than $500.
November 2 — Form 720 taxes.
File Form 720 for the third quarter of 2015.
November 2 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during September.
November 2 — Heavy highway vehicle tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in September.
November 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during October, report them to your employer - Details
November 10 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax.
File Form 941 for the third quarter of 2015. This due date applies only if you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full.
November 11 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Veterans Day) - Details
November 12 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of October.
November 13 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of October.
November 16 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October. Nonpayroll withholding. If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in October.
November 25 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of October.
November 27 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Thanksgiving Day) - Details
November 27 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of November.
November 30 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during October.
November 30 — Heavy highway vehicle use tax
File Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used in October.