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WASHINGTON – As tax season gets rolling, the Internal Revenue Service has once again released its “dirty dozen” list of common scams. Reiterating the fact that “there is no secret way to get out of paying taxes”, the IRS hopes this list will help spread the word to consumers before they become victims of tax fraud. Listed below are the 12 most common tax schemes: *Offshore transactions. Some people use offshore transactions to avoid paying U.S. income tax. Use of an offshore credit card, trust or other arrangement to hide or underreport income or to claim false deductions on a federal tax return is illegal. Through April 15, the IRS is offering limited amnesty to people involved in such arrangements. *Identity theft. In one scam, tax preparers allegedly used information, such as Social Security numbers and financial information, from their clients’ tax returns to commit identity theft. In another, scammers sent consumers fictitious correspondence from the financial institution and IRS forms in an attempt to trick them into disclosing personal information. *Phony tax payment checks. Con artists sell phony checks to pay a tax liability, mortgage or other debts. The false checks, called sight drafts, are worthless and have no financial value. *Slavery reparations. Thousands of African Americans have been misled by people offering to file for tax credits or refunds related to slavery reparations. There is no provision in the tax law for slavery reparations. Taxpayers could face a $500 penalty for filing such claims if they are not withdrawn. * Taxes not withheld from wages. Illegal schemes are being promoted that instruct employers not to withhold federal income tax or employment taxes from wages paid to employees. These schemes are based on an incorrect interpretation of tax law and have been refuted in court. *Improper home-based businesses. Promoters claim that taxpayers can deduct most, or all, of their personal expenses as business expenses by setting up a bogus home-based business. *Pay the tax and get a prize. *False Internet promotions that claim all taxes can be avoided or that urge you to “untax yourself for $49.95.” *Social Security tax scheme. A scam offers refunds of all Social Security taxes paid over a lifetime – which isn’t legal. The scam works by getting the victim to pay a “paperwork fee” of $100, plus a percentage of any refund received. *Promises of a big refund for a fee by victims lending their Social Security numbers or a W-2 form. *Share or borrow dependents. Tax preparers share a client’s qualifying children with another client to allow both to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. For example, one client may have four children but only needs to list two to get the maximum credit. The preparer will list two children on the first client’s return and the other two on another client’s tax return. The preparer and the client “selling” the dependents split a fee. *IRS impersonators making house calls to collect taxes. The IRS has a set up a toll free hotline to report suspicious tax fraud activity at (800) 829-0433.

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