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SALT LAKE CITY — As the tax deadline draws closer, more scammers are targeting people filling out their returns. Officials with the Utah Tax Commission say they're seeing more cases of scams that have been effective in the past.
One scam tells the victim they can get a large refund even if they have little or no income. Another comes in the form of an email telling you that you filed your taxes incorrectly, so you need to amend them online. These are just a couple of the scams the Utah Tax Commission is warning people about.
Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts said, "There are several different scams that go around and they're just different versions [of them] year after year."
Roberts says one of the most common scams they're seeing this year involves telling the victim they can get a tax credit for graduating college, even if they graduated decades ago. Roberts says if a tax preparer tells you this, you should walk away.
"Con artists will falsely claim that the refunds are available even if the victim went to school decades ago. They'll say, ‘Oh, yeah, you graduated from a college 20 years ago? We can get you money for that,'" Roberts said. Some tax preparers may be skimming off their clients' returns by inflating their fees. He says people need to ask their preparers, up front, all of the fees that may come along.
"You should know what it's going to cost up front. Those are good questions to ask, especially if you haven't dealt with that preparer before," he said. Roberts says he's seen people move to the state for tax season, get their clients to pay in advance, then disappear.
"They'll build [what looks] like a credible website and get some business cards printed up, those type of things so that those that are trusting and aren't aware, they look legit," he said.
For advice on how to find a competent tax professional, see Tips for choosing a tax preparer on the IRS website.