Common Sense Can Help Chicago Taxpayers Fend Off Scams This Tax Season

The IRS might not be the only group taking your money this tax season.

A growing number of scam artists are preying on the desperation of stressed-out taxpayers to make a quick buck, according to Chicago bankruptcy lawyers. Sometimes it's by promising you an easy way to lower your tax bill. Other times it's by impersonating IRS websites. Either way, scammers are on a mission to get your personal information - and your money.

With credit card debt, a mortgage or rent payment and a maybe even an impending tax bill, you've got enough to worry about. Fortunately, it's a cinch to avoid tax scams - you just have to know what to look out for.

Many folks are fooled by e-mails with links to fake IRS sites - usually requesting your personal information in order to expedite a refund or avoid a pricey penalty. So how do you tell the real from the fake? This one's easy: the IRS doesn't contact taxpayers via e-mail. If you receive a tax-related e-mail, it's probably a scam. Navigating the Internet is a little more challenging, since there are so many fake websites - and many look almost identical to the IRS' real site. But again, there's a trick to tell the difference. Check the URL. It should always start with

Here's another way to pick out a possible scam - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So that company that promises you can start a work-from-home business and deduct the expenses from your taxes? It's probably a scam. And if you get caught, it's you who will be held accountable. Or how about that tax preparer that claims he can "adjust" your taxes so you'll have zero tax liability? Another scam - and chance to get into trouble with the IRS. And that debt settlement company that promises to settle your IRS debt for cheap? Don't believe it. Often times, they'll charge you hundreds - maybe thousands - of dollars, just to prepare paperwork that will probably get rejected. Besides, if Uncle Sam sees you shelling out big bucks for debt settlement, he might start to question why you can't afford to pay your taxes.

Everybody wants to lower their tax burden. But there's no miracle to do the job overnight. The only way you're going to make paying your taxes easier is by saving money. If you've got an emergency fund to dip into, now might be the time to do it. If you don't, consider starting one for your future income taxes. Don't think you can afford to save money? How about lowering that debt burden? Paying off debt today means you'll make less payments in the future, making more of your income available for surprise expenses - like that tax bill. If you're drowning in debt, bankruptcy can help you start paying it off. Contact a Chicago bankruptcy attorney for your free one-on-one debt analysis. We can't lower your tax bill - but we can make paying it easier.

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