Expatriate Tax Assistance from the IRS – Preventing Identity Theft and Online Access to Transcripts

Expatriate Tax Assistance from the IRS – Preventing Identity Theft and Online Access to Transcripts
January 27, 2014

This year the IRS is making a huge effort to crack down on identity theft, as refund fraud is one of the greatest issues the IRS faces. They are making strides to protect taxpayers and help victims of fraud. They have more then 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases and have trained more then 35,000 employees on how to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft is suspected or confirmed.

Here are their top tips for protecting yourself from identity theft:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security (SSN) card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in your wallet. You don’t want any of these documents available to thieves.
  • Only provide your SSN or ITIN when required. Just because a business asks for it doesn’t mean you are required to provide it.
  • Check your personal credit report every 12 months for suspicious activity.
  • Protect and secure all financial information in your home, especially your mail.
  • Use firewalls and anti-spam/virus on your computers to prevent computer hacking.
  • Never provide personal information over the phone, through mail or the Internet unless you are sure about who you are working with.

How do you know if you are a victim of identity theft?

Keep an eye out for such things as:

  • More than one tax return was filed for you.
  • You receive notice about a balance due, refund offset or have had any collections processes started against you for a tax year in which you didn’t file a return.
  • IRS records show that you received more wages in a tax year than you actually earned.
  • Your federal or state benefits were reduced or cancelled because the IRS received information about an income change (and you know there was no income change).

If you believe there is a possibility you are a victim of identity theft and it may affect your taxes, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 extension 245.

 New IRS Get Transcript Option

When preparing your tax returns, it’s always best (especially when working with a tax professional) to have copies of prior year’s returns. If you haven’t been diligent about keeping paper copies, you’ll be happy to know the IRS has now made your prior transcripts available online.

With the online transcript delivery system, taxpayers can choose to receive their transcripts online or via the US mail, if they prefer. When choosing the online option, you can view and print tax data immediately. You have access to tax returns, tax accounts, wage and income transcripts (which would also be helpful in uncovering potential identity theft). This is a particularly helpful service for taxpayers who are trying to file their taxes close to the deadline. Professional tax preparers find it immensely helpful to have prior year’s tax returns available for reference and this service provides taxpayers the opportunity to access that information instantly.

If you are seeking expatriate tax assistance from a tax professional and want them to access the information for you, they will need to obtain Power of Attorney to do so. It will likely be more expeditious and a whole lot easier for you to obtain the information yourself and provide it to your tax preparer.

Need additional expatriate tax assistance?

If you would like help preparing your expat taxes, please contact our expert tax professionals who are always here and ready to assist you in any way.

Who doesn’t love a tax break? Use our handy calculator to learn what you can save using the FEIE.

Use our simple excel calculator to get an estimate of how the foreign earned income exclusion will save you money. It will make your day!

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