Trusting Social Media for Tax Advice is a Doom Scroll into Disaster

In the age of social media, information – and disinformation – spreads like wildfire. From DIY hacks to beauty tips, the internet offers a plethora of advice on just about anything. However, when it comes to taxes, relying on social media for advice can lead you down a dangerous path filled with inaccuracies and potential scams.

It’s not uncommon to stumble upon misleading tax information while scrolling through platforms like TikTok or Twitter. From dubious claims about maximizing tax refunds to outright fraudulent schemes, social media is rife with misinformation that can land unsuspecting people in hot water with the IRS. These schemes often encourage people to submit false or inaccurate information in hopes of securing a larger refund. However, the consequences of knowingly filing fraudulent tax returns can be severe, including significant civil and criminal penalties.

While social media can be a convenient platform for connecting with others and accessing a wealth of information, it’s essential to exercise caution when it comes to matters as critical as tax advice. The IRS advises taxpayers to be vigilant and discerning when evaluating internet advice, especially when it comes to tax-related content. Whether it’s a fraudulent tactic promoted by scammers or a blatantly false scheme trending across social media platforms, the consequences of following inaccurate advice can be dire. Buckle up because we’ve got some eye-opening examples straight from the trenches of social media.

Fraudulent advice on Form W-2

Let’s kick things off with everyone’s favorite tax form, the notorious Form W-2. Picture this: you’re scrolling through your feed, and suddenly, you stumble upon a post urging you to use tax software to manually fill out your W-2 form. Seems harmless, right? Wrong. This scheme advises you to inflate your income and withholding figures, essentially cooking the books to score a hefty refund. But hold your horses because the IRS is onto this game.

There are not one, but two other sneaky variations of this W-2 scheme. First up, we have the Fraudulent Form 7202 trick, where scammers persuade folks to claim credits meant for self-employed individuals, even if they’re not self-employed. Then, there’s the Fraudulent Schedule H hustle, where individuals conjure up imaginary household employees to claim refunds on non-existent wages. Crafty, right? But not so fast – the IRS and its partners are hot on the trail of these shenanigans.

Form 8944 scheme

Next up, we’ve got the enigmatic Form 8944 scheme. Ever heard of it? Yeah, neither have most folks. That’s because it’s a tax form reserved for the elite – tax professionals, that is. But wait, there’s more! Some online gurus are peddling the outrageous claim that this form can magically erase your tax bills and land you a sweet refund. Spoiler alert: it can’t. Form 8944 is strictly for preparers seeking waivers to file paper returns, not a get-out-of-jail-free card for taxpayers.

Now, before you get any bright ideas about gaming the system, let’s talk consequences. Intentionally filing false forms? That’s a one-way ticket to Penaltyville, friend. We’re talking civil penalties, criminal prosecution, and hefty fines – think $5,000 hefty. Trust us, the risk is not worth the reward.

How taxpayers can verify information.

Instead of scrolling social media for the top tax tips, the best place for taxpayers to learn how to properly use tax forms is to go straight to the source at IRS.gov.

Report fraud.

If you’ve stumbled upon a fishy tax scheme or suspect your tax preparer might be up to no good, don’t sweat it! You can easily report them and be a superhero of tax integrity. Just hop online and fill out Form 14242, or if you’re feeling old-school, grab a pen and paper, jot it down, and send it to the IRS. They’re all ears and ready to swoop into action at the IRS Lead Development Center in the Office of Promoter Investigations.

Conclusion

While social media may offer a convenient platform for accessing information, it is not the ideal place to seek reliable tax advice. By remaining cautious and skeptical of misleading content circulating online, taxpayers can avoid falling victim to scams and ensure compliance with tax laws. Remember, when it comes to taxes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry – so why not reach out to a Certified Tax Planner today? They can help you be sure that all your tax tips and tricks are on the level!