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HOUSTON (KIAH) – Tax season kicks off this week and the IRS Criminal Investigation wants taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud. 

As the W2’s roll in and tax season begins, so do the phishing scams or unscrupulous tax preparers. Before filing, there are a few things you need to know.

First, all U.S. taxpayers can be taxed on worldwide income from all sources. You are required to report all taxable income and pay any money owed. Anyone caught committing tax fraud can be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines, and jail time. 

One taxpayer, Tiffany Phenix pleaded guilty last April to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false U.S. individual income tax return. 

Phenix was sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, and ordered to pay over $284K in restitution.

According to the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Here are 10 tips for filing this year:

  1. Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
  2. Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid
    preparers are required to have one.
  3. Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
  4. Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. Taxpayers must pay their fair
    share of taxes.
  5. Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on
    tax returns filed with the IRS.
  6. Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank
    account, not your tax preparer’s.
  7. The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up.
  8. Don’t respond to text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They
    may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
  9. Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your
    tax return. These messages are fraudulent.
  10. Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in
    response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the
    IRS.
Tax season began on January 24, 2022. The last day to submit your taxes is April 18, 2022 unless you file for an extension. 

For more information on tax season or to report a phishing scam, you can visit the IRS website. You can also file a complaint via email at phishing@irs.gov.