Tax tips for the 2016 season

It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year. Tax time. But that also means thieves are on the hunt to steal your well-earned refund.

Before you file your taxes, there are some things you need to know that can keep your identity safe.

Millions will soon put their most sensitive personal and financial information in the hands of Uncle Sam. That’s why it’s so important to choose a tax preparer wisely. The IRS says:

• Look for an IRS preparer tax identification number.

• Avoid people who base their fee on a percentage of your refund. And note if your preparer doesn’t ask for receipts.

• Not asking enough questions about deductions and credits could be a warning sign that something is wrong.

• Never sign a blank tax return.

Tax time is also prime season for identity theft:

• Never give your personal information over the phone or online unless you started the conversation and confirmed the identity of your tax professional or an IRS employee.

• If information on your return is missing or wrong, that could also be red flags.

Common examples of identity theft from tax returns:

• Finding out more than one return was filed for one person in a year.

• Seeing more tax owed or refund offset for a year you didn’t file.

• This one seems like a good thing, but it’s not. IRS records pointing to more wages than actually earned. It could mean someone is using your information to steal your money.

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