By James Colgan SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – A new tax code coupled with hundreds of legitimate-appearing scams could spell trouble for thousands of Americans this tax season. So much trouble, that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo released a memo earlier this week warning citizens of the dangers posed by fraudulent tax preparers and other tax-related scams.
In the memo, Cuomo outlined several of the most popular forms of tax scamming and gave several tips for citizens to stay protected during tax season. The Democratic governor said customers should be “wary” of “preparers who offer ‘instant refunds’ or ‘no up-front cost’” as well as phone calls from individuals appearing to be from the IRS.
Nick Shires, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with the Syracuse-based accounting firm Dannible & McKee LLP, agreed: “The threat of scam and tax scams is increasing every single year as it is with scams in other facets of everyday life.”
Cuomo’s memo comes on the heels of sweeping tax reforms passed by the Trump administration over the span of the past several months. The reforms, beyond changing the landscape of the job for accountants like Shires and thousands of others across the nation, have created a cloud of uncertainty around the already-confusing tax system for ordinary citizens like Sophie Knochenhauer.
“I took financial literacy in high school, so I should know a lot more, but I’m not really well versed on taxes. They’re very confusing, I don’t get tax refunds, returns. I don’t understand them,” said Knochenhauer.
That’s where Shires comes in. While hiring a CPA to handle your taxes might be a more expensive avenue than recently popular online software like TurboTax and H&R Block, to people who don’t know the tax code inside-and-out, it might be the safer option.
“Talk about new laws—the tax reform is 1,100 pages. So, for the average taxpayer it’s nearly impossible to know everything. That’s what a Certified Public Accountant provides that a tax software wouldn’t.” said Shires.