IRS alerts taxpayers to scams involving college tax credit

The IRS has issued a tax scam warning connected with the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Promoters of the scheme target senior citizens, low-income individuals, and members of church congregations. The con artists say they can get a tax refund or stimulus payments based on the American Opportunity Tax Credit, even if the taxpayer was not enrolled in or paying for college.

Victims of these scams can lose the upfront fees they are asked to pay to have the promoters file these claims on their behalf.

The IRS also warns taxpayers to be careful of these scams because they are legally responsible for the accuracy of any tax return filed and will have to repay any refunds received in error, plus penalties and interest. They may also face criminal prosecution.

In its notice about the promotion of these bogus refund claims, the IRS cautions taxpayers to beware of any of the following:

* Fictitious claims for refunds or rebates based on false statements of entitlement to tax credits.

* Unfamiliar for-profit tax services selling refund and credit schemes to the membership of local churches.

* Internet solicitations that direct individuals to toll-free numbers and then solicit social security numbers.

* Homemade flyers and brochures implying credits or refunds are available without proof of eligibility.

* Offers of free money with no documentation required.

* Promises of refunds for “Low Income — No Documents Tax Returns.”

* Claims for the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or for economic stimulus payments.

* Unsolicited offers to prepare a return and split the refund.

* Unfamiliar return preparation firms soliciting business from cities outside of the normal business or commuting area.

About Brenda J. McGivern, CPA

Brenda McGivern started her own certified public accounting and management consulting firm in October 2001. The full service CPA firm provides tax and accounting solutions to meet the needs of today’s small business and individual. Brenda McGivern has become a trusted advisor and valuable resource her clients rely on for timely, accurate assistance when they need it.

Before starting the firm, she worked as an accountant for three years at a local firm and prior to that five years at a large international CPA firm in Boston. She has performed the following tax services: federal, state and local tax planning, international tax planning, estate and succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, capital retention and IRS representation. She has also coordinated assurance engagements, such as financial statement audits, reviews and compilations from the planning phase through the reporting phase. She has prepared and reviewed regulatory filings for numerous regulatory agencies including the Security and Exchange Commission.

Prior to these positions she was selected from over 2,000 candidates into an eight-person intensive financial management program at an international technology company. The program consisted of graduate level classroom study and two six-month rotational assignments in financial operations.

She graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. McGivern also holds a license in Massachusetts as a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. She resides in Stoughton, Massachusetts with her husband Brian, and their sons Sean, Ryan and Conor and their dog, Davis.

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