"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

IRS wishes everyone a safe tax filing season

LOS ANGELES – With the filing deadline for the current tax season coming up fast, the Internal Revenue Service is urging filers to be aware of persons who may have devious schemes to defraud their fellowmen. Victor Omelczenko of the IRS Media Relations Office gave the following rules to keep in mind:David Gee (left), president of Chinatown Public Safety Association, introduces Victor Omelczenko of the IRS Media Relations Office to media people.

  • The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.
  • The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail.
  • The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
Omelczenko and other IRS officers, namely, Special Agent Andrew Lee, Revenue Agent Yufen Shen, and Senior Tax Consultant Tina Su briefed media representatives recently to help ensure a safe tax filing season for everyone. It was hosted by the Chinatown Public Safety Association headed by David Gee.

The officers also wanted to remind tax filers in need of tax preparers to be extra careful in their choices. Always keep in mind that regardless of who is preparing your tax return, you are legally responsible for what's entered on the submitted form, Agent Lee said. He added that a qualified tax professional will request to see your records and receipts and will ask you multiple questions to determine your total income and your qualifications for expenses, deductions, and other items. By doing so, they have your best interest in mind and are trying to help you avoid penalties, interest, or additional taxes that could result from later IRS contacts.

According to the IRS website www.irs.gov, most tax return preparers are professional, honest and provide excellent service to their clients. The following are tips in choosing a preparer:
  • Find out what the service fees are before the return is prepared.

  • Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of your refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.

  • Only use a tax professional who signs your tax return and provides you with a copy for your records.

  • Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign a blank tax form.

  • Choose a tax preparer who will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed.

  • Ask questions. Do you know anyone

  • Check to see if the preparer has any questionable history with the Better Business Bureau, the state's board of accountancy for CPAs or the state's bar association for attorneys. Find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.

  • Determine if the preparer's credentials meet your needs. Does your state have licensing or registration requirements for paid preparers? Is he or she an Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant, or Attorney? If so, the preparer can represent taxpayers before the IRS on all matters - including audits, collections, and appeals. Other return preparers can represent taxpayers only in audits regarding a return signed as a preparer.

  • Before you sign your tax return, review it and ask questions.
One may report suspected tax fraud and abusive tax preparers to the IRS on Form 3949-A, Information Referral or by sending a letter to Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888. Download Form 3949-A from IRS.gov or order by mail at 800-829-3676.

Regarding identity thief, the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit can be reached at the Identity Theft Hotline at 800-908-4490 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm local time (Alaska and Hawaii follow Pacific Standard Time).

If you receive an e-mail or find a Web site you think is pretending to be the IRS, forward the e-mail or Web site URL to the IRS at
phishing@irs.gov. Many more resources are available to help inform taxpayers about identity theft on the IRS Web site.

The Federal Trade Commission is also available to assist taxpayers with identity theft issues. They can be reached at 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).

Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.

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