Stretch your Dollar: Last-minute tax security tips as due date approaches

Stretch Your Dollar

(ABC NEWS) — It’s been an intense year for many, but taxes are still due. Federal returns must be filed by Monday, May 17. The IRS suggests electronic filing versus mailing because you’ll get any refund from them faster that way.

“There’s a directory of tax professionals on IRS.gov, where taxpayers can search for tax preparers with certain credentials,” said Alejandra Castro.

If you have less than $72,000 a year in adjusted gross income, the IRS will get you free online tax preparation software.

If you choose to work with a tax prep pro, make sure they have a PTIN or preparer tax identification number.

“Ask about their credentials,” Castro said. “They’re going to have very important and valuable information to use, such as your social security numbers.”

If you’re working virtually with a preparer, make sure they have a secure portal.

Kathy Pickering said, “If your tax preparer said, ‘oh, just e-mail me your W2’, that should be a warning sign that they’re not taking security seriously.”

Beware of tax-time scams; the IRS will only communicate with you via US mail.

“The IRS will not send you an e-mail,” added Castro. “They’re not going to call your house and threaten you.”

If you do get a letter from the IRS, you can confirm it’s legitimate by calling the IRS.

Now, remember, lying on your tax returns is fraud. And it’ll likely catch up to you down the road. But if you realize after the fact that you’ve made a mistake, you can file an amendment after your tax return is processed.

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