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IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2013-09: IRS Warns Donors about Charity Scams Following Recent Tragedies in Boston and Texas
It’s sad but true. Following major disasters and tragedies, scam artists impersonate charities to steal money or get private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Fraudulent schemes involve solicitations by phone, social media, email or in-person.
Scam artists use a variety of tactics. Some operate bogus charities that contact people by telephone to solicit money or financial information. Others use emails to steer people to bogus websites to solicit funds, allegedly for the benefit of tragedy victims. The fraudulent websites often mimic the sites of legitimate charities or use names similar to legitimate charities. They may claim affiliation with legitimate charities to persuade members of the public to send money or provide personal financial information. Scammers then use that information to steal the identities or money of their victims.
The IRS offers the following tips to help taxpayers who wish to donate to victims of the recent tragedies at the Boston Marathon and a Texas fertilizer plant:
- Donate to qualified charities. Use the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool at IRS.gov to find qualified charities. Only donations to qualified charitable organizations are tax-deductible. You can also find legitimate charities on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Web site at fema.gov.
- Be wary of charities with similar names. Some phony charities use names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. They may use names or websites that sound or look like those of legitimate organizations.
- Don’t give out personal financial information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers and passwords to anyone who solicits a contribution from you. Scam artists use this information to steal your identity and money.
- Don’t give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card or another way that provides documentation of the donation.
- Report suspected fraud. Taxpayers suspecting tax or charity-related fraud should visit IRS.gov and perform a search using the keywords “Report Phishing.”
More information about tax scams and schemes is available at IRS.gov using the keywords “scams and schemes.”
What should you do if you already filed your federal tax return and then discover a mistake? Don’t worry; you have a chance to fix errors by filing an amended tax return. This year you can use the new IRS tool, ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ to easily track the status of your amended tax return. Here are 10 facts you should know about filing an amended tax return.
- Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended tax return. An amended return cannot be e-filed. You must file it on paper.
- You should consider filing an amended tax return if there is a change in your filing status, income, deductions or credits.
- You normally do not need to file an amended return to correct math errors. The IRS will automatically make those changes for you. Also, do not file an amended return because you forgot to attach tax forms, such as W-2s or schedules. The IRS normally will send a request asking for those.
- Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years of the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of Form 1040X.
- If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them to the IRS in separate envelopes. You will find the appropriate IRS address to mail your return to in the Form 1040X instructions.
- If your changes involve the need for another schedule or form, you must attach that schedule or form to the amended return.
- If you are filing an amended tax return to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original tax refund before filing Form 1040X. Amended returns take up to 12 weeks to process. You may cash your original refund check while waiting for the additional refund.
- If you owe additional taxes with Form 1040X, file it and pay the tax as soon as possible to minimize interest and penalties.
- You can track the status of your amended tax return three weeks after you file with the IRS’s new tool called, ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ The automated tool is available on IRS.gov and by phone at 866-464-2050. The online and phone tools are available in English and Spanish. You can track the status of your amended return for the current year and up to three prior years.
- To use either ‘Where’s My Amended Return’ tool, just enter your taxpayer identification number (usually your Social Security number), date of birth and zip code. If you have filed amended returns for more than one year, you can select each year individually to check the status of each. If you use the tool by phone, you will not need to call a different IRS phone number unless the tool tells you to do so.
By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
I’ll say it. The IRS on your IPhone – Really – Really? Everybody’s got an app so I shouldn’t be surprised about the IRS’s latest announcement of their new app IRS2Go.
But really, Schedule A filers must wait until Feb 14 to file their returns because the IRS’s computer programmers wont have the software ready until then.
But no worries, they have their priorities straight – they found the time and resources to create an IPhone app which is released 20 days before many taxpayers can file their returns. Really?????
Can I have Doug Shulman’s job? Pleeeeeeeeez
Video: IRS2Go: English
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today unveiled IRS2Go, its first smartphone application that lets taxpayers check on their status of their tax refund and obtain helpful tax information.
“This new smart phone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want when they want it,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “As technology evolves and younger taxpayers get their information in new ways, we will keep innovating to make it easy for all taxpayers to access helpful information.”
The IRS2Go phone app gives people a convenient way of checking on their federal refund. It also gives people a quick way of obtaining easy-to-understand tax tips.
Apple users can download the free IRS2Go application by visiting the Apple App Store. Android users can visit the Android Marketplace to download the free IRS2Go app.
“This phone app is a first step for us,” Shulman said. “We will look for additional ways to expand and refine our use of smartphones and other new technologies to help meet the needs of taxpayers.”
The mobile app, among a handful in the federal government, offers a number of safe and secure ways to help taxpayers. Features of the first release of the IRS2Go app include:
Get Your Refund Status
Taxpayers can check the status of their federal refund through the new phone app with a few basic pieces of information. First, taxpayers enter a Social Security number, which is masked and encrypted for security purposes. Next, taxpayers pick the filing status they used on their tax return. Finally, taxpayers enter the amount of the refund they expect from their 2010 tax return.
For people who e-file, the refund function of the phone app will work within about 72 hours after taxpayers receive an e-mail acknowledgement saying the IRS received their tax return.
For people filing paper tax returns, longer processing times mean they will need to wait three to four weeks before they can check their refund status.
About 70 percent of the 142 million individual tax returns were filed electronically last year.
Get Tax Updates
Phone app users enter their e-mail address to automatically get daily tax tips. Tax Tips are simple, straightforward tips and reminders to help with tax planning and preparation. Tax Tips are issued daily during the tax filing season and periodically during the rest of the year. The plain English updates cover topics such as free tax help, child tax credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, education credits and other topics.
Follow the IRS
Taxpayers can sign up to follow the IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews. IRSnews provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The IRSnews tweets provide easy-to-use information, including tax law changes and important IRS programs.
IRS2Go is the latest IRS effort to provide information to taxpayers beyond traditional channels. The IRS also uses tools such as YouTube and Twitter to share the latest information on tax changes, initiatives, products and services through social media channels. For more information on IRS2Go and other new media products, visit www.IRS.gov.
Related Item: IRS Goes Mobile With IRS2Go
- An IRS Smart Phone App for Taxpayers (dailyfinance.com)
- IRS Announces Tax Refund ‘App’ for iPhone (online.wsj.com)
- Are You All a Twitter About Tax News? Now You Can Follow The IRS @IRSnews (staciesmoretaxtips.wordpress.com)
- IRS issues new phone app to track refunds (sfgate.com)
- An I.R.S. App Lets You Track Your Tax Refund (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)