Beware: 2017 Data breaches are leading to more fraudulent tax returns

We spoke with Johnson & Heller, a full-service tax, accounting and business consulting firm for advice this tax season.

Posted: Jan. 31, 2018 5:29 PM
Updated: Jan. 31, 2018 6:41 PM

We spoke with Johnson & Heller, a full-service tax, accounting and business consulting firm in North Chico for advice this tax season.
Tax preparer Julie Burbridge said President Donald Trump's new tax law will likely not impact your 2017 tax return, but many people are seeing a drop in the income tax that's being withheld on their paychecks, because the Feds have adjusted the tax table.  Tax experts stress that you should talk to a tax  professional to make sure you're withholding enough money in anticipation of your 2018 filing next year.
Another big thing this year: The IRS is cracking down on people who are failing to report foreign bank accounts.  Says Burbridge, "Its a very personal issue. We find for people, they feel this is something they shouldn't be required to report. And yet, if the IRS catches you not reporting it, the penalties can be up to 50% of what you have in your account...We're seeing they're finding people. Banks can't do business with the United States now, unless they're willing to hand over social security numbers now of US citizens that bank with them."
2017 was a year in which there were larger numbers of data breaches than ever before at places like Equifax, a credit consumer agency.  Burbridge says that scammers can file returns using that stolen information, by posing as the people from whom they stole.  The best way to protect yourself is to file your tax returns as soon as possible.   Burbridge says, "The best thing to do would be to file early.
The identify theives in this tax ring: they are trying to file before you do, otherwise they can't file under your social security number.  So the earlier you get your information together, the earlier you file, the more you prevent someone else from filing for you."

We've included some helpful links:
https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/identity-protection
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do

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