Expert shares tips to avoid penalties and refund fraud this tax season


With tax season quickly approaching, crooks are gearing up. Senior tax preparer Richard Gartland (the bow-tie wearing spokesperson from the H & R Block commercials) says in recent years, refund fraud has been on the rise.

“The IRS estimates that they paid out $5 billion in fraudulent refunds in 2013,” Gartland said.

But there are things you can do to protect yourself. Gartland told California Life it’s vital that you protect your personal information. “The IRS will never call, they will never send an email, they will never request that information. So if you get that kind of a call, hang up. You get the email, just delete it. Do not respond,” Gartland said.

Filing early can also help to prevent refund fraud. “The filing process itself sets a flag on the Social Security number indicating that it’s been used, “Gartland said. “Fraudulent people, if they get it first, you’re gonna have a long process to get your refund and establish your identity.”

For many more of Gartland’s tips and to find out how you can enter to win $1000 a day, be sure to check out our story below, airing statewide this week on California Life!