Watch out for tax season scams

Submitted by Edward JonesPrint Story | Email Story
It's that time of year when we do our taxes — but it's also the same time that tax scammers go to work. What scams should you watch for — and how can you avoid being victimized?
 
Sadly, the list of scams is pretty long, including demands for payment or requests for "additional information" pertaining to your tax refund, in which the sender asks for your Social Security number and other personal information. These scam emails can look quite official, often incorporating the IRS logo. You might also receive scam text messages containing bogus links claiming to be the IRS website or an online "tool" that can help process your refund faster.
 
But keep these points in mind:
 
  • The IRS generally won't contact you by phone and won't contact you by email, text messages or social media channels to ask for personal or financial information. The IRS begins most correspondence to taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • The IRS won't call to demand you make an immediate payment through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. If you owe taxes, the IRS generally will mail you a bill. And the IRS won't threaten to bring in the police or another law enforcement group to arrest you for not paying your taxes.
In general, be extremely skeptical about any type of communication purporting to be from the IRS that sounds bullying or over-inquisitive — and certainly don't give out any personal or financial information. But these fake messages aren't the only tax-season scams out there. You might even receive a direct deposit from what appears to be the U.S. Treasury Department — but if you weren't expecting it, something's likely not right. This payment could be a sign that a fraudulent tax return was filed in your name, and it might be followed by a communication from a supposed IRS agent requesting this overpayment be sent to them. If this happens to you, you'll want to contact the IRS right away, and you could also ask your bank to return the deposit to the government.  
 
Other scams don't claim to originate directly from the IRS, as scammers pretend to be from real or imaginary tax organizations. For example, you could get a message from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS, but this agency won't contact you without a legitimate reason. Or you could receive a message from the nonexistent "Bureau of Tax Enforcement." Your best bet is to delete these messages immediately or send them to your spam folder.
 
Not all tax season scams originate from fraudulent IRS representatives or fake agencies. You also need to be careful about whom you hire to prepare your taxes. If possible, get a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member. And keep in mind that a legitimate tax preparer must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number and must sign your tax return. If someone doesn't have this number or is reluctant to sign your return, it may well be a sign that this individual is a "ghost preparer" who only wants to pocket your fee.
 
Tax scammers are, unfortunately, here to stay — but remaining vigilant can help you keep them from causing problems for you in this tax season and all the ones in the future.
 
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor. Courtesy of Rob Adams, 71 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247, 413-664-9253.. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. For more information, see This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor. Courtesy of Rob Adams, 71 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247, 413-664-9253.. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. For more information go to www.edwardjones.com/rob-adams.
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Adams COA, Town Seek Funds for Memorial Building Bathrooms

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — The Council on Aging is still waiting to transition its programming from the Visitor Center to the Memorial Building and is looking to the Community Development Department for help. 

The COA has been waiting for additional bathroom facilities to be completed for the facility, but the council and the town have so far been unable to obtain grant or other funding for the work.

 

COA Director Sarah Fontaine said they are working with Community Development to find funds for the bathrooms and other small improvements, including increased entrance accessibility, renovations to the former music room and fixed windows. 

 

"I had voiced my concern. It's a very extensive list, I don't expect that it will all be done before we transition over. The only need is the bathrooms," Fontaine said. 

 

At last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin said he looked into using Community Development Block Grant funds for the project. He said, however, that the Memorial Building is ineligible.

 

"The guidance we received from [the state Department of Housing and Community Development] has basically told us that the building is ineligible for funding because we already received funding in 2018," he said. "There has to be five years between the application for senior-center type projects. So based on that guidance, I don't believe Memorial School is eligible for funding."  

 

Fontaine also mentioned the auditorium in the building, which the town plans to renovate separately as a future capital project. 

 

"It would be nice as a senior center to have the auditorium available for guest lectures and other things like that," she said. 

 

Moving staff to the Memorial Building now while keeping programming at the Visitor Center, Fontaine said, is not an option. She noted that the Hoosac Valley Regional School District had previously expressed interest in using the second floor of the Visitor Center for its office space. 

 

"I was very firm in saying, logistically, it's hard for us to manage things just being upstairs. It's going to be very difficult if we're off site to try and manage programs downstairs," she said. 

 

In other business: 

 

  • The Council on Aging is looking for volunteers to fill vacancies on its advisory board. It filled one of the vacancies on Wednesday, appointing Barbara Ziemba. Ziemba, an active participant in the COA, had already filled out the paperwork needed for her appointment. 

 

"I have attended many COA activities, volunteer, and am a member of the Friends of the Council on Aging and attend meetings. I have been interested in being a member of the Board of Directors for some time. Please consider my appointment to the board," Ziemba wrote, explaining in her paperwork why she was interested in the position.           

 

The group also discussed two other vacancies on the board and potential candidates to fill them. Two members have been unable to attend recent meetings for health reasons. 

 

  • The board voted to approve updated bylaws. The bylaws were revised and written primarily by Board Member Elizabeth Mach. 

 

"I just wanted to make a comment, or rather an appreciation, for Liz for taking this project on," Fontaine said. 

 

The new bylaws have a provision to allow honorary members. Fontaine said there are currently no honorary members. 

 

The board appointed Bruce Shepley as the board's chair to replace Barbara Lagowski, who filled one of the now vacant member seats. 

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