Taxes Are Due, But Beware of Scams Targeting Last-Minute Filers

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The federal income tax deadline is Wednesday, after being postponed from its typical April 15 date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IRS says it has a huge backlog of paper tax returns because so many IRS employees have been working from home. Millions of taxpayers who filed paper returns have not yet received their refunds, even months after sending them in. Paper returns are being processed in the order they have been received, so taxpayers should not call or file a second return, according to the IRS.

IRS’s website is encouraging taxpayers and tax professionals to file electronically because processing paper returns can take several weeks longer than usual.

Those who need more time can file for an extension, and delay filing until Oct. 15, but will still have to pay what they owe at that time or be subject to penalties and late fees.

Experts are also warning people to be on the lookout for email and phone scams targeting panicked filers.

“A lot of the scams that we see during the tax season, especially on Tax Day, are a lot of phishing attempts to both individuals as well as tax preparers,” Quentin Rhoads-Herrera, a cybersecurity expert, said.

Rhoads-Herrera, of CRITICALSTART, said scammers are usually trying to get sensitive personal information or money.

“The most common one we’re seeing currently is a phishing attempt, a fake email being sent, claiming that they’re from the IRS to the individual stating that if they don’t pay by a certain date, their social security number will be turned off or canceled,” Rhoads-Herrera said.The IRS said that if people can’t pay the full amount they owe, they should pay what they can and arrange a payment plan, apply to defer payment to a later date or request penalties be waved due to economic hardship — though people will still be on the hook for the interest.

Those who have not yet filed their taxes can do so online through the IRS website.

Featured on CBS Los Angeles | July 15, 2020

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