Tax pro offers tips as deadline approaches

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Imagine going to a tax office and finding out that your taxes already have been filed and someone else was set to receive your refund. It’s a form of identity theft, and it can happen to you.

CBS 42 sat down with a tax professional from H&R Block this week to talk about issues you may encounter and information you need to know as the April 17 tax deadline approaches. Identity theft is part of that. Lisa Chambers, office leader at H&R Block in Calera, says people can steal you social security number and date of birth and use it to steal your refund. And you may not even know what happened until you arrive at the tax office.

“And then what happens is, when we try to process it and file it, it’s rejected,” Chambers said. “And it says that person’s return has already been filed. And that’s how we find out.”

Fortunately there are products that can help you recover your identity if this happens. Chambers says H&R Block offers one, and you can also get one from the IRS.

But that’s not the only trouble you may encounter this tax season. Scammers are aware of the stress that taxes can cause, and Chambers says they try to capitalize on it – often by phone. Someone calls, pretends to be the IRS, says you owe money and that they’re coming to get you if you don’t pay them. This scam often targets the elderly.

“I have actually had people come to the office in tears, crying, because they really believed it,” she said. “And the IRS will never call you on the phone. You might get a letter from the IRS. But they will not call you on the phone and threaten you.”

People also encounter problems with tax documents. You’re probably aware that you need to have a W-2, but you also may need others. For example, if you’ve had any distributions from an IRA, pension or 401(k), you’ll need the proper documents for that. Certain insurance forms also are required, like the 1095-A. You’ll need this if you bought your own health insurance in 2017. Chambers says this is a common oversight.

“They don’t know that they have to have the 1095-A form,” she said. “So then they get a letter from the IRS, and that delays their refund.”

If you got health insurance through your employer last year, you don’t need to provide documentation when filing your taxes. 

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