Protect Yourself From Tax Scams

Protecting your financial information is always a top priority for us. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently reminded us that tax-related scams, even after tax season, are still pervasive. Two particular scams are on our radar – fake IRS phone calls and email phishing – and we want to be sure they’re on yours, too.

 

These unsolicited calls, automated messages or emails supposedly from the IRS, could be notifying you of a bogus tax bill or refund, or an email may even link to a website that looks real, but likely is not. The IRS offers these tips to help you identify potential fraudsters:

  • The IRS will always mail a bill first, not call you for immediate payment. You can question and confirm the bill with someone before paying it.
  • The IRS will not ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, and will not demand that you pay a certain way (i.e., with prepaid debit card).
  • The IRS will not threaten to call the police or file a lawsuit against you.
  • If you receive an unsolicited email, do not click on the provided link, as it could contain a virus. (You can forward the email to phishing@irs.gov, then delete it.)

 

We believe you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your information privacy. Here are a few more suggestions for thinking ahead of potential scams:

  • Never share any personal or financial information when contacted unexpectedly.
  • Question all unsolicited emails, before opening any contained links. Try hovering your mouse over a link to ensure it’s encrypted (often denoted with an https://).
  • Phony emails may be characterized by poor grammar and a lack of formatting.
  • Are you being told not to contact your lawyer, accountant or another third party? It’s probably a scam.
  • If you’re being promised something outlandish, it probably is too good to be true.

 

The false alerts and bogus claims are intended to take advantage of our desire to fix a problem as quickly as possible. If you’re prompted for information – for whatever reason – take a moment before you react. According to the IRS, you should always be afforded time to confirm a claim directly with someone before handing over sensitive information.

 

If you do receive a questionable communication, investigate further by doing an internet search for legitimate contact information before divulging anything.

Important Information for Tax Season 2016

As you prepare for tax season, here is some information that you may find beneficial.

2016 Form 1099 mailing schedule

  • January 31 – Mailing of Form 1099-Q and Retirement Tax Packages
  • February 15 – First mailing of original Composite Form 1099s
  • February 28 – Begin mailing delayed original and amended Composite Form 1099s
  • March 15 – Final mailing of any remaining delayed original and second round of amended Composite Form 1099s

Delayed Form 1099s
In an effort to capture delayed data on original Composite Form 1099s, the IRS allows us to extend the mailing date until March 15, 2017, for clients who hold particular investments or who have had specific taxable events occur. Examples of delayed information include:

  • Income reallocation related to mutual funds, real estate investment, unit investment, grantor and royalty trusts
  • Processing of Original Issue Discount and Mortgage Backed bonds
  • Expected cost basis adjustments including, but not limited to, accounts holding certain types of fixed income securities and options.

Amended Form 1099s
Even after delaying your Composite Form 1099, please be aware that adjustments to your Form are still possible. Raymond James is required by the IRS to produce an amended Form if notice of such an adjustment is received after the original Composite Form 1099 has been produced. There is no cutoff or deadline for amended Forms. The following are possible causes of an amendment:

  • Income reallocation, a practice in which companies adjust the tax characterization of previously paid income during the tax year
  • Adjustments to cost basis (due to the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008)
  • Changes made by mutual fund companies related to foreign withholding
  • Tax-exempt payments subject to alternative minimum tax
  • Any portion of distributions derived from U.S. Treasury obligations

What can you do?
Consider talking to your tax professional about whether it makes sense to file an extension with the IRS to give you additional time to file your tax return, particularly if you held any of the aforementioned types of securities during 2016.

You can find additional information at www.raymondjames.com/taxreporting.

 

 

Please note, changes in tax laws or regulations may occur at any time and could substantially impact your situation. Raymond James financial advisors do not render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.