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BBB says file early – there’s a messy tax season ahead

Here it comes again. Federal tax filing season is Jan. 23 through April 18,  and the IRS warns that it could get a bit rough. Your Better Business Bureau urges taxpayers to file as early as possible, especially if you’re expecting a refund. Plus, early-filing reduces the odds that a scammer will beat you to the punch, having stolen your identity and then steal a refund. The result of that could be a monumental headache for you as you go through the painstaking and lengthy process of trying to correct your standing with the IRS.

With the three previous tax seasons dramatically impacted by the pandemic, the IRS has taken additional steps in 2023 to improve service for taxpayers. The IRS has hired more than 5,000 new telephone assistors and added more in-person staff to help support taxpayers. For those who file their returns electronically, which the IRS urges, the expectation is that a refund will be delivered within 21 days. 

You better believe that scammers are ready to pounce with their tactics of attempting to steal your refund. There are steps you can take to lower the odds that you’ll be victimized by a tax fraudster. 

The BBB suggests:

• Check and double check the forms sent from employers to make sure information is accurate. Potential trouble-causers include a misspelled name or an incorrect Social Security number.

• Watch that your employer gets your W-2 or 1099 form to you by Jan. 31. Any delay warrants your inquiry immediately with your employer first and then with the IRS. If the form was sent to the wrong person or stolen, big trouble could follow. IRS does have Form 4852, which you could use as a substitute for your W-2.

• If you are notified of a duplicate return by the IRS, respond to them immediately. You may have been ripped off by an identity thief.

• Inquire immediately if you receive notice from the IRS that you received wages from somewhere you did not work.

• Look out for an IRS notice saying you owe additional tax, a refund offset, or you have had collection actions taken against you for a year during which you did not file a return. Respond immediately if you get one.

• Make it a steadfast practice to never, ever give out your Social Security number to someone if you aren’t sure they have a legitimate reason to get it.

• Remember that you are responsible if your tax preparer does something incorrectly. For that reason, you must thoroughly check up on the preparer’s credentials. Check them out at Reject any preparer who says they will base their fee on the amount of your refund.

There may end up being delays and complications for tax filers this year, but at least with the above steps, you can be sure you are not the cause of your tax-filing problems. For answers to other questions or concerns you have regarding this year’s tax filing, check with your BBB at 800-856-2417 or visit our website at