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.