My phone seems to be a target for robo calls and scammers. I have heard from callers telling me that I owe money to the IRS, my social security benefits are in danger of being cut off, and that I need to provide my birth date to verify something or another.
I always hang up before I know what I was supposed to verify.
Others have reported calls indicating a warrant will be issued for their arrest if they do not call, pay or otherwise reply to the message.
Do not be pressured into giving out any information to these callers.
It's important to remember than neither the IRS nor the Social Security Administration ever make contact be phone. They still rely on the U.S. Postal Service.
However, you should not rely on mail delivery for your tax return. I know some taxpayers believe that that identity theft is directly related to electronic filing. That might be true in some cases.
But there are other ways identity theft happens. And that brings us back to scammers verifying, and also includes payroll "talkers," taxpayers bragging, thieves snooping - and the list goes on.
IRS has seen substantial turn-over of personnel in the past few years. Budget cutbacks and a shortage of employees has resulted in decreases in services. One undeclared problem is the losing of paper filed returns. It does happen.
The normal sequence has a clerk opening the envelope, scanning the return into a computer, and then putting any money where it belongs. Trash gets trashed. If the clerk is interrupted, the return, the return might go into the trash, a computer burp may distort the data, and other interesting things can happen.
If you e-file, a receipt is generated with an identity number. You should retain a paper copy of the receipt AND a paper copy of the return, along with backup documents used to generate the return, for a minimum of three years. I personally keep mine for five years before I shred them.
For expert help and advice on how to handle your returns and paperwork, talk to your tax adviser.
Virginia Moryadas is a tax preparation professional in Bluffton.