Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
(NBC News) -- All those holiday gifts have left you with enough bills. But here's something else that can cost you early this year: Tax scams.
The Internal Revenue Service is out with its annual dirty dozen list.
They may claim to help, but fraudulent preparers are more interested in the money you give them, then the money they try and get back for you.
Norm Meadows, IRS: "You'd be very careful with the doctor or attorney you'd select, we want you to be very careful with the return preparer."
As you look to the side effect of all that holiday spending, the holiday bills, the IRS is stepping up its scrutiny of non profit credit counselors that operate too much like for-profit businesses and don't provide the promised services.
Norm Meadows, IRS: "They charge people exorbitant rates and don't really do a service for them. The IRS has increased the number of audits it's doing on these so-called credit counseling agencies to make sure they do exactly what they say they do."
Victoria Lim, Reporting: "Just as other companies and even government agencies have become pawns in the phishing e-mail scams, the IRS is not immune. Last month, the agency issued a warning that fake emails lured taxpayers into giving up their personal information for unclaimed refunds. Norm Meadows says the IRS does not contact people through e-mail."
Norm Meadows, IRS: "It would be mail, a very efficient looking, possibly certified mail is the only way an IRS agent would contact an individual."
While the IRS may empathize with you if you fall for a scam, it won't excuse you from your tax bill, and that will include fees and penalties you'll rack up if you file late and incorrectly. Remember, you are responsible for your taxes.
Other scams to make the dirty dozen list: Frivolous arguments, false interpretations of the tax law that claim you don't have to pay taxes at all, offshore transactions, hiding income in offshore accounts to avoid paying tax on it.
Employers that don't pay employees taxes will have their own set of problems with the IRS, but you will too if you don't pay the amount you owe.