The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 30, 2013

Tax time: Filers warned to be aware of scams

JOHNSTOWN — Income tax season can be a demanding time for some people and a pleasant time for those anticipating a refund.

But it also can be a time when unsuspecting residents can get duped by unscrupulous tax preparers with claims that are too good to be true.

“Shopping for a tax return preparer is like shopping for any type of service in that there’s a certain amount of caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware, that applies,” said Jennifer Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

“Make sure the person you choose to trust with your sensitive personal and financial information is a true tax professional, not a con artist.

“The hookup to a friend of a friend who knows a secret way to guarantee you a big refund should be a big red flag.”

Dennis Kotzan, who founded Kotzan CPA and Associates, PC of Richland Township in 1991, said that tax preparation is a professional service and should not be viewed as a commodity marketed in a frivolous way to catch someone’s attention.

The tax preparer should be a qualified individual such as a certified public accountant or a person either enrolled with the IRS or registered with the IRS to complete tax forms, he said.

“The preparer shouldn’t refuse to sign your return as the preparer,” he said.

“The preparer should be available year-round for audit support, general questions and tax planning.

“The preparer should offer tax-savings plans and not suggest deductions be inflated as a means of obtaining a larger refund.

“The taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of their return. Fraudulent-deduction patterns can easily be tracked by the IRS via the preparer’s identification number.”

Jenkins said that people should never sign a blank return and should always review the information on the return with the person who prepared it so they know that the return is correct.

“If you’ve paid someone else to prepare your return, insist that he or she has included his or her preparer tax identification number on it, so that the IRS knows that you were not alone in preparing your return,” Jenkins said.

“Keep in mind that by disclosing your personal and financial information to a tax con, you open yourself to the risk of identity theft and other troubles.”

If someone is unscrupulous enough to file a fraudulent return for you, it’s unlikely that that person will not try to use your information to fleece more money from you down the road by tapping into your bank account or accessing your credit card information, she said.

Another scam that residents should be aware of is called phishing. The deception involves an unsolicited email or a fake website that seems to be legitimate but lures victims into providing personal and financial information, according to an IRS pamphlet on tax scams.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • District Deaths April 25, 2014

    April 24, 2014

  • GarageA25.JPG Garage collapses in Oakland following Weds. night accident

    No one was hurt when a garage collapsed Thursday afternoon in the Oakland section of Stonycreek Township.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 24, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 24, 2014

  • WilliamsA ‘I thought I was going to die’

    Hornerstown resident Robert “Bobby” Williams said he endured two hours of surgery, suffered a heart attack and fears he may never again be able to fully use his right arm.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • JFD traing Firefighters practice river rescues

    Johnstown Fire Department members lift a “victim” out of the rescue basket during training Wednesday along the Stonycreek River flood-control wall

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • sewer meeting map Sewer work will tie up traffic

    Brace yourselves.
    This summer’s sewer main replacement project will delay traffic with detours, closed streets and lane restrictions through one of Johnstown’s notoriously snarled neighborhoods.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • USS Somerset USS Somerset arrives at San Diego homeport

    The USS Somerset is home.
    The amphibious transport dock ship named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jablonski, Stephen Charges filed in courthouse bomb threat

    A Johnstown man was charged by Ebensburg Borough police Wednesday with threatening to blow up the Cambria County Courthouse, a call he admitted to Ebensburg police he made Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vizza, Peter Vizza voted deputy mayor

    The top vote-getter in last year’s Johnstown City Council election is now also the city’s deputy mayor.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads