Federal Income Tax returns are due for most people on April 18th this year although California storm victims have until May 15th to file their federal income tax returns.  The IRS is warning people about scams popping up on social media that already have gotten numerous people into trouble.  It should go without saying, but social media is definitely not a place to go for reliable tax advice.  According to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, “The IRS continue to see a lot of inaccurate information that could get well meaning taxpayers in trouble.  People should remember that there is no secret way to fill out a form and simply get a larger refund that they aren’t entitled to.  Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Two of the scams to which Commissioner Werfel is referring are Form 8944 fraud and Form W-2 fraud.  In regard to Form 8944 fraud, posts on social media are advising people to file a Form 8944 Hardship waiver Request in order to get a refund even if you owe income taxes.  In regard to W-2 fraud, social media posts are telling people to use tax software to create a phony Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement making up a large phony income, a large phony withholding and a phony company in order to get a substantial unearned refund.


Form 8944 is a tax form that relates to professional tax preparers who are requesting a waiver in order to file paper tax returns rather than electronic tax returns.  It does not relate in any way to a individual taxpayer obtaining a refund even if they owe income taxes.  Filing the form in an effort to do so is a crime.

We are all familiar with W-2s that we get from our employer.  The strategy suggested by the social media posts as to creating a phony W-2 in order to get a big unearned refund is actually a strategy used by income tax identity thieves who steal your identity and file an income tax return using your name and Social Security, but include one of these counterfeit, phony W-2s.  It is absolutely illegal.

If you want real tax advice upon which you can rely, don’t go to social media, but instead seek out a licensed professional tax advisor such as a CPA.

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