Thanksgiving Ushered In A Bit Of Good New From The IRS
The Internal Revenue Service issued its annual inflation adjustments for dozens of tax items and tax schedules.
When you get around to filing your 2019 taxes next year, you’ll have a small gift in the way of an increase in the standard deduction. As a result, married taxpayers who file joint tax returns will see an increase of $400 to $24,800 in tax year 2020, while for single taxpayers and married individuals who file separately, the standard deduction will go up $200 to $12,400. For heads of households, the standard deduction will be $18,650 for tax year 2020, up $300.
So, there you have it, a small gift from the IRS. That’s just one more thing to add to your list of things you’re thankful for this year. But wait, that’s not all.
IRS Coming Down Hard On Identity Thieves
The IRS is really picking up the pace and they are all over identity thieves. As a recent article claims, “IRS strikes back as agents make big dent in ID theft.” According to the article, “The IRS stopped nearly 1 million fraudulent refunds from being issued last year. They totaled almost $6.6 billion.”
Information More Accessible Than Ever
Identity theft is the number one issue the IRS talks about these days. And as you can see from the above statement, they have good reason to turn laser focus on identity theft. Personal information is easier to access than ever through social media and other online services, but traditional methods are still providing access. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, universities and prisons have always been targeted by identity thieves. In effect any business that collects Social Security numbers and birthdates is a great source for criminals who want to steal identities.
In fact, back in 2015 when federal authorities broke up a massive identity theft ring in Alabama and Georgia that netted $10 million in fraudulent refunds, the majority of victims were soldiers injured in Afghanistan who were being treated at Fort Benning’s hospital. So even military hospitals are easy targets.
And just last year, authorities broke up a ring in the District of Columbia that tried to obtain more than $20 million in fraudulent tax refunds. Among that rings victims were people in assisted living facilities, drug addicts and prison inmates.
The point is that criminals are extremely resourceful, so everyone really needs to take every precaution to protect personal information that could give criminals the ability to file taxes in your name. And, taxpayers can take some comfort in the major efforts the IRS is making toward stemming the problem. After all, the money that is being stolen belongs to real taxpayers.
IRS May Know Your ID Has Been Stolen Before You Do
Most taxpayers have no idea their ID has been stolen until they file their taxes and find out someone has already filed in their name. Sometimes though, the IRS Taxpayer Protection Program may be able to identify a suspicious tax return bearing your name and SSN and will send you a notice or letter. Let’s hope you never have to deal with identity theft. But, if you do, the IRS has an entire program set up to assist those who are victims. You can find out all about their program here: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/how-irs-id-theft-victim-assistance-works