What's the Deal: Avoiding tax scams before April 17th deadline

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The IRS says 20% of Americans wait until the last two weeks before tax day to file their returns and now scammers are targeting not just procrastinators but people who've already filed.

Getting notification from the IRS or anyone related to your taxes can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, but there's a very easy way to determine if what you're getting is legit.

No one is immune to being the target of a tax scam - not even money expert, Janet Alvarez, who got a call just a few weeks ago.

"Telling me that I had prepared my taxes improperly and that I owed the IRS money because of the improper tax preparation, and threatening me and telling me that if I didn't pay them immediately over the phone that they'd call the police," she recalled.

A number of people at 6abc have received an email from an alleged Senior Tax Officer claiming "Your tax refund may be delayed" because "your tax account has been accessed by multiple IP's outside of the country and we have temporarily locked your account. Please click here to unlock your account and release your refund..."

"The IRS will never call or email you, so if you receive a phone call or an email from anyone claiming to be the IRS, related to the IRS, or calling about your taxes in any regard it's a scam," said Janet.

The only official channel of communication for the IRS is via snail mail.

Also keep in mind - this is the last year you'll be able to take certain tax deductions, including moving expenses for job relocation, money spent on tax prep and financial advisors, uniforms and more.

"Another thing to remember to do is state and local taxes. Deductions for that are going to be capped at $10,000. That's important because state and local taxes include not only taxes on things you consume, taxes on things you buy like automobiles or clothing but also on income tax. So that's going to be limited to $10,000 a year starting next year so use it or lose it, take those deductions this year," said Janet.

Also get the TPIN from anyone who offers to prepare your taxes. That's the tax preparer identification number. Every legitimate tax preparer should have one.

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