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IRS visits Lexington to kick off tax season; warns of scams, and failure to pay

Posted at 4:53 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 17:23:37-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The deadline to file (and pay) your 2019 tax return is a little more than 2 months away, and the IRS is offering tips on how to best prepare for the big day while keeping your highly sensitive information secure from scammers and hackers.

“Tax scammers who try to get your information won’t just go after you individually, they’ll also target the tax professionals themselves,” said IRS spokesman Luis Garcia.

Garcia said it’s important to retain a tax professional who will sign your return and has the best in software security to avoid attacks on your personal information.

“Phishing is a big problem,” Garcia added of the emails that willl come looking very much like something from the IRS, but it is actually fradulent.

“You click on the link and it looks like the IRS website, except it’s either going to threaten you or it’s going to entice you with a refund it says you’re owed, but didn’t collect,” he explained.

Garcia also said to check the web browser once you click a link like this to ensure it reads: IRS.gov. That’s one way to know it’s a legitimate correspondence.

Garcia also warned against failing to pay your taxes. He didn’t say you’d be arrested, or be taken from your home, but did warn of the consequences of avoiding payments while sharing the benefits of dealing with the matter head on.

“We’ve got all kinds of payment plans. We’ve got a plan where you can pay even less than you actually owe. But you’ve got to contact us. Don’t bury your head in the sand, because then it’ll only get worse with fines and interest additions,” he said.

Bryant Jackson is a special agent for the IRS in the criminal investigation division. His job is to “follow the money” as it may relate to tax evasion or falsifying your returns. Those who earn extra money in cash and fail to report it could eventually hear from Jackson at some point down the road.

“We don’t want to see anyone not (be) in compliance with the tax code. Just get in compliance, contact the IRS if you have some issues, and we’ll work with you,” Jackson said.

The biggest change to individual tax returns over the last two years has been to itemized deductions. The new standard deduction has made the need to do that, somewhat obsolete.

“People don’t need it anymore because it doesn’t add up to the doubling of that standard deduction,” Garcia said.

The only thing that really hasn’t deviated from year to year is the filing deadline. That remains April 15th since the date falls on a weekday, this year.