It’s tax time again!
Hopefully you’ve already gotten your taxes in, but if you’re like most of us, you’re probably still dragging your feet. Don’t worry, I’m not going to scold you—but you should get them in as soon as possible. Why? Because tax season is a favorite time for fraudsters.
Despite recent efforts by the IRS to improve their tax filing security measures, millions of fraudulent tax rebates get sent out every year. But there’s one very simple way to dramatically reduce your risk of being a victim—file early, before the identity thieves can. Once your tax returns are filed, no one else can file with your information! So if you haven’t filed yet, do it soon.
While we’re talking about tax returns, we should also say a few words about how you file. If you’re planning to file using your computer, make sure you’re using a trusted filing service (Turbo Tax, H&R Block, etc.), and always run their recommended updates. Software updates help improve security, so never put them off until next time!
If you’re not sure what programs to use, check with the IRS or your state’s tax filing website, as they can often recommend approved filing services.
For those of you who prefer working directly with a tax professional, make sure you choose your preparer carefully. Get recommendations from friends and coworkers whose judgement you trust. Check out online ratings. And stop by their office before you commit to working with them. Is there someone watching the door? Or can you just slip in and have a look around? (If so, that’s a bad thing.) Are files kept locked up or stashed in piles on the preparer’s desk or floor? If at any point during your meeting you can see someone else’s tax file lying open, go somewhere else. Finally, how does the office make you feel? If you’re uncomfortable for any reason, find someone else to do your taxes.