Panel Recommends Major Tax Law Changes
Scott Olson  /  Getty Images file
IRS Commissioner Mark Everson urged taxpayers "not to be taken in by hucksters who promise to lower or eliminate taxes."
updated 2/7/2006 2:15:48 PM ET 2006-02-07T19:15:48

Sending the Internal Revenue Service a "corrected" wage form reporting zero income won't make your taxes disappear, the tax collectors said Tuesday.

This and other ideas for dodging taxes surface each spring when millions of people start working on tax returns. They are schemes that can mean fines and prison to users, and a few new ones surfaced this year.

Reporting zero wages is a new twist on an old idea, filing a return with zeros written on every line. Trying to eliminate all of the year's income by deducting it all won't work either, the agency said.

The IRS has also noted the misuse of a form that taxpayers can use to request the elimination of a previously assessed tax. This scam, typically used by people who never file tax returns, attempts to erase taxes the IRS assessed for those who don't prepare returns.

"I urge taxpayers not to be taken in by hucksters who promise to lower or eliminate taxes," said IRS Commissioner Mark Everson.

The IRS also urged taxpayers not to fall victim to phishing, a technique identity thieves use to get personal financial data from unsuspecting victims. The thieves may pose as an IRS official and send an e-mail asking for personal financial information. The IRS doesn't contact customers using e-mail.

Other schemes to avoid:

  • Trust Misuse: Transferring assets into a trust does not always eliminate or reduce taxes. The IRS has 200 active investigations of trust promoters under way. Taxpayers should seek the advice of a qualified professional when considering a trust.
  • Frivolous Arguments: Courts have repeatedly ruled that they will not honor certain legal arguments, such as the position that wages are not income or that paying taxes is voluntary.
  • Return Preparer Fraud: Dishonest people who prepare tax returns, some promising big refunds, can cause big headaches for taxpayers. Some skim from refunds or prepare fraudulent returns. No matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for its accuracy.
  • Credit Counseling Agencies: Be careful of credit counseling organizations that claim they can fix credit ratings, push debt payment plans or impose high fees. An arm of the IRS is investigating a number of organizations for possibly violating rules governing educational credit counseling.
  • Charitable Abuse: Be careful to follow the rules for tax breaks offered for charitable donations. The IRS is investigating a number of abuses in this area.
  • Offshore Transactions: The IRS continues to crack down on individuals who to try to evade taxes by using offshore financial accounts.
  • Employment Tax Evasion: Schemes that urge employers not to withhold payroll or income taxes from wages do not hold up in court, the IRS says. The agency is also looking into tax evasion schemes involving employee benefits.

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