SIDNEY — It’s tax time once again.
“File early,” is the recommendation of Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart.
According to Lenhart, 146 million people file federal taxes returns every year.
“But there are seven million who don’t file,” he said. “Eighty-seven percent of the people file online. One out of three people file on the last day of filing, April 15.”
Lenhart said it’s each person option of whether to do the taxes themselves or hire a professional — such as a CPA or agency like H&H Block.
“You can do them yourself, but it’s good to have a professional to look them over,” he said.
Lenhart said if you get an email or phone call from the IRS, you should ignore it as it’s probably a scam.
“The IRS doesn’t email taxpayers or call them,” said Lenhart. “The first contact with a taxpayer is through a letter. Anything else is probably fraudulent.
“The exception is if you ow the IRS money and they bring in a third party debt collector to get their money. But they will still send you a letter saying a debt collector will be calling on you. And if you’re paying a bill to the IRS, always write the check to the IRS and not the bill collector. Don’t give or send cash either.”
Cyber criminals, he said, can be anywhere in the world while they are trying to steal your information.
“E-filing is less expensive and faster,” said Lenhart. “If you are e-filing, make sure your internet connection is secure. The cyber criminal will take your Social Security number and file the return before you have a chance to do so.
“Make sure you have strong passwords for all your accounts,” he said. “Don’t go on WiFi that’s in a public place. Someone can steal your information from you as you work on the computer.”
Tips from Lenhart about filing taxes include:
• File early
• Shred the paperwork connected with your taxes
• Keep one copy of your taxes in a safe place
• Have your refund deposited into your checking or savings account with a direct deposit
• If you receive your refund in the mail, make sure your mailbox is secure
• If you don’t get your refund in a timely matter, contact the IRS and ask them why.
“According to the IRS, there is $153 million in refunds that no one has claimed,” said Lenhart. “The IRS has a hotline you call call to see if you have a refund waiting on you.”
Lenhart said there are several reasons why the person didn’t get their refund. Information on the tax documents could be incorrect — such as an address or checking account number — and the funds couldn’t be delivered.
“The person might owe back taxes and the IRS kept their return,” said Lenhart. “Of if they’re behind on their child support, they’ll take the funds also.”
Delinquent college loans will also trigger the IRS to keep the refund.
If the math isn’t done correctly on the refund, that will also cause the paperwork to be kicked back to the taxpayer.
Members of the military, he said, also receive special breaks if they are on active duty in a war zone.
“If an area of the county has been declared a disaster, the taxpayer will also bee helped. If their records are gone, they will get extra time to file their taxes,” he said.
Lenhart concluded by saying the taxpayer should always protect their Social Security number and their W2s during tax time.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.