Taxes 2024: Ways to avoid tax filing scams

The tax season is officially open. The IRS is accepting your returns now. But as you ramp up to file, scammers are gearing up to try to intercept that money.  

The IRS expects more than 128 million individual tax returns to be processed before the April deadline. Last year the average refund was just more than $3,000. So you do the math - that's a lot of money being dispersed. 

"You can beat the scammer to the punch," Abby Reed of Reed Financial Group.

She hears regularly from the IRS. This family-owned shop, in business for more than 40 years, stays on top of the scams that affect their clients. Here's her advice.

How to avoid scams when filing taxes

  • File taxes early
  • Be proactive with taxes
  • Taxes password protected
  • Adjust tax withholding

RELATED: Georgia income tax moves to flat rate: How much taxpayers could save in 2024

A blank 1040 tax return form from the IRS. (iStock / Getty)

"File early, as early as you can. I know that it's easy to put that off. Trust me, I want to do the same thing," she said. 

One return per social security number is accepted. So, if someone has stolen your social security number and files on your behalf, they get a shot at your refund before you do. And, it can take years to sort out that a scammer is impersonating you.

Next, get proactive. Set up an IP PIN through the IRS website. It's an added layer of protection.

"It's basically like a password for your tax return. It used to only be available if you already had been a victim of identity theft. But now they're allowing people to do it proactively," Reed said. 

A third way to safeguard your 2024 tax return and to protect your personal information is to have your correspondence with your tax preparer password protected.  

Filing state taxes with a tax preparer

"If you are, which most of us are, if we have personal information, social security number, income information on our laptop or desktop, we want to make sure that it's password protected," Reed said. "It has the proper security software, antivirus firewall that updates automatically."

And one more thing, adjust your withholding, so you get a smaller refund. The larger the refund, the more tempting it is to steal.

"This can cost, and does cost taxpayers millions and millions of dollars in refunds every year."