It’s getting closer to the time of year that nearly everyone dreads: tax season! With new regulations, including Obamacare, combined with changes in what may or may not be deductible, more and more South Floridians are finding that they need a little extra help with their taxes. This year, we’ve put together this handy guide to help make this most stressful time of year a little less so.
Mileage Deduction Tips:
While many people think about basic charitable giving and work expense deductions, many forget about mileage deductions – despite the fact that more than 55 million Americans qualify for the deduction.
Facts to consider:
● Mileage deductions can save Americans thousands of dollars in tax deductions.
● Mileage deductions are frequently audited so knowing how to correctly track this information is critical.
● US workers who use their personal vehicle for business purposes drive more than 10,000 miles per year on average, which could equal deductions of more than $6,000.
Don’t Get Scammed This Tax Season:
Due to the amount of tax preparation being moved online through DIY software, scams are ever evolving. And the reason they are so popular is because they are so profitable. Between October 2013 and August 2015, the IRS logged over $20 million in losses just from one type of scam. BeenVerified’s Communications Director Justin Lavelle shares some of the most common tax-related schemes to be aware of this tax season.
· IRS Phone Scams—If you haven’t already been attacked by one of these prevalent scams consider yourself a lucky one. While IRS phone scams are an all-year round threat, they will likely amp up through now through deadline day and beyond. The key to avoiding being hit by these scams is to know that the IRS does not make threatening phone calls nor do they request wire transfers over the phone. If someone calls saying they are from the IRS, have the confidence to hang up the phone and don’t call back if they leave a voicemail.
· Online Tax Software Phishing Emails—A newer emerging tax season threat executed by con artists sending phishing emails with official looking logos from mainstream online tax providers. These con artists are looking for you to part with social security number and other key details, or trying to infect your computer with malware. Your safest bet is to not open any emails or click on any links that you’re not 100% sure about.
· Fake Tax Refund ID Theft Scams—Beware! Identity thieves will steal social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and get a large tax refund early in the season. Guard your social security number and online identity fiercely. Paperless e-filing and online tax software has actually made it easier for this type of scam to proliferate. Also watch closely for your W2’s to arrive in the mail. If they’re not delivered in a timely manner, start getting to the bottom of where they went and if they were filed falsely.
· An Invitation to High-Priced Seminars—a long-running tax-season scam involves invitations to seminars, typically costing upwards of $1,000, where attendees are given bullet-proof strategies for lessening their tax bill or avoiding certain types of taxes altogether. Unfortunately, most of these strategies are either invalid or outdated, and completely useless when dealing with the IRS. When participants figure it out any trace of the con artists have vanished.
· Tax Return Preparer Fraud—Unfortunately there are an unsavory bunch of people acting as tax return preparers falsely preparing your taxes. Most tax professionals provide honest high-quality service, but there are some dishonest preparers who act as a business preparing taxes to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams. Return preparers are a vital part of the U.S. tax system with about 60% of taxpayers use tax professionals to prepare their returns. To find a trustworthy tax preparer, check with the Better Business Bureau, use a well-known and respected company or get a referral from a friend or co-worker.
There are a number of red flags to look out for when hunting for a tax preparer.
Red Flag 1: Avoids showing you credentials.
Many phony tax preparers will have little to no professional credentials. Some will even go out of their way to create fake documents from just as fake institutes to persuade tax consumers into believing their credibility. Do not fall into this trap, and do a bit of researching before giving a stranger your private information.
Red Flag 2: Does not have a PTIN.
A preparer without a Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, is not legally allowed to do your taxes. If you come across a tax preparer who refuses to give you his or her PTIN or claims that he or she does not need one, chances are the person is a fake.
Red Flag 3: Fee is based on a percentage of your return.
Another warning sign is a tax preparer’s fees fluctuating based on the size of your return. This gives phony tax preparers the incentive to mark down false information, thus wrongly increasing your return for a larger paycheck. Always ask a tax preparer’s about payment options before you agree to let him or her do your taxes.
Red Flag 4: Boasts a larger size refund
If your tax preparer tells you that they can get you a much larger refund that anyone else, this can be a red flag that your tax preparer is not on the up and up. Typically, every preparer is dealing with the same information in terms of income and expenses and there should not be much fluctuation with regard to the size of your potential refund.
One of the best ways to prevent becoming a victim to this type of scam is by searching the Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications on irs.gov. If a tax preparer’s name appears, they are legitimate. However, if his or her name is not listed, it may be safer to find someone else. Furthermore, never sign a blank return and double check that your preparer has signed all necessary documents as you are ultimately held accountable.
Justin Lavelle is the Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified, a leading source of online background checks and contact information. It allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, property records, and criminal records in a way that’s fast, easy, and affordable. The company helps people discover, understand, and use public data in their everyday lives. https://www.beenverified.com
Tax Prep Help:
Adam Davis, Director of System Services for the Palm Beach County Library System, also put together a list of books to check out before, during, and after you’ve submitted your 1040. Check out this month’s edition of Storytime for Grownups for a helpful guide to this taxing time of year!
Steals and Deals:
Another Tax Season has come and gone and TooJay’s, the restaurant known for its generous servings of homemade New York deli favorites, is offering guests a chance to “wine” down.
Print or show the coupon to receive the deal. The offer is only valid from Monday, April 16 to Wednesday, April 18 and cannot be combined with any other offer.
TooJay’s has grown to 28 restaurants throughout Florida and currently serves guests in Palm Beach and Broward counties, the Treasure Coast, the West Coast of Florida, the Orlando area, The Villages and Polk County.
TooJay’s received the 2017 Dining Award for Best Deli from Orlando Magazine, two Foodie Awards for Best Deli and Best Take-Out from the Orlando Sentinel, the 2016 Best of South Florida Award for Best Deli from the Sun Sentinel and ranked eighth in the country for Family Dining by Consumer Reports.
For more information about TooJay’s, visit TooJays.com. Follow TooJay’s at twitter.com/therealTooJays and instagram.com/toojaysdelior visit the Facebook fan page, which has over 88 thousand fans, and become a fan at facebook.com/TooJaysDeli.
If you know of any other community resources you think should be included here, please let us know!