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For Immediate Release
April 12, 2013
San Francisco, CA – To help Californians file their taxes on time for “Tax Day”, CALPIRG Education Fund provides an online Questions & Answer guide to paying federal and state taxes.
“Taxpayers today have several options when it comes to paying federal and state taxes. It can get confusing and stressful, but it needn’t be,” said Jon Fox, Consumer Advocate with CALPIRG Education Fund. “The simplest and fastest way to file your taxes is online using a trusted and secure service.”
CALPIRG warns Californians to be on the lookout for fraudulent offers or emails that can end up in financial or identity theft. In particular Californians should avoid these common scams:
- Bogus email tax scams: The IRS does not initiate email correspondence with taxpayers. Never respond to emails supposedly from the IRS asking for personal information since these are likely phishing scams. Whether asking recipients to click on the email's embedded link that takes them to a website which asks for their personal information or opening attachments – these request are bogus. Neither the IRS nor reputable tax services send unsolicited emails asking to open attachments or send personal information over unsecured networks. These can often lead to taxpayers unintentionally exposing their computers to viruses and other malicious software.
- "Instant" tax refund: The IRS reminds taxpayers that there is no such thing as an instant tax refund. "Instant refunds” offered by some tax services are often Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs), and come with high fees and interest rates. While these loans may sound appealing at first glance, RALs can reach annual interest rate of more than 37%.
- Identity Theft: If more than one tax return was filed in your name or IRS records show you were paid by an employer you aren’t familiar with - someone may have used your information to submit false tax returns on your behalf. Taxpayers should file their taxes early, to catch identity theft and avoid losing out.
“Anyone who believes their personal information has been stolen and used for tax purposes should immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit online at www.IRS.gov/identitytheft or call 1-800-908-4490,” noted Jon Fox.
Filing taxes involves sensitive personal information and needs to be done right. Californians should make sure to use only accredited services. A complete list of accreted free federal online taxes services are available on the IRS website while a complete list of accreted state online taxes services are available at the California tax board website.
CALPIRG research found that prices for tax preparation services can vary, and recommend shopping around for the best offer. Many Californians may even be able to prepare, complete and e-file their federal and state tax return for free using the IRS website and CalFile online.
To learn more on how to file taxes easily and safely, look over our online resource page available HERE.
The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) Education Fund is a result-oriented public interest group that protects consumers, encourages a fair sustainable economy, and fosters responsive democratic governance.
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