IRS Reminds Taxpayers of Key Deadline That They Should Know About to Avoid Scams

IRS Reminds Taxpayers of Key Deadline That They Should Know About to Avoid Scams
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a reminder that Jan. 31 is the deadline for employers to file W-2 forms and other wage statements, and that wage earners should be aware of this deadline to help them guard against tax refund scams.

Employers must submit Form W-2 and Form W-3 for the 2022 tax year to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by Jan. 31, with the deadline applicable to both electronic and paper filings.

“Filing these documents timely prevents late-filing penalties for employers, helps employees file their income tax returns and prevents tax fraud,” the IRS said in a statement.

Filing W-2 forms and other wage statements by the deadline helps prevent tax fraud by providing the IRS with accurate information about taxpayers’ income and employment. By having access to this information before tax returns are filed, the IRS can quickly verify the information reported on individual tax returns and identify and prevent fraudsters from using stolen personal information to file fraudulent returns and receive fraudulent refunds.

Further, workers must be “furnished” copies B, C, and 2 of Form W-2 by the Jan. 31 deadline, with businesses meeting that requirement if the form is mailed on or before the due date.

Businesses can request a 30-day extension to file Form W-2 with the SSA by submitting Form 8809 (pdf) by Jan. 31, although this does not extend the deadline for furnishing wage statements to employees.

Another deadline that falls on Jan. 31 is for Forms 1099-NEC (pdf), which businesses file with the IRS to report non-employee compensation to independent contractors.

Tax professionals recommend that taxpayers file their tax returns as soon as possible after receiving their W-2 forms and other wage statements in order to beat potential fraudsters to the punch.

Tax Return Fraud

Scammers often wait for the Jan. 31 deadline for W-2 filings to pass before submitting fraudulent tax refund forms. They do that in part because they hope the IRS will have less time to verify the information on the returns, increasing the chances that the criminals will receive fraudulent refunds before the agency is able to detect the fraud. Fraudsters also gather and use personal information from W-2 forms that may have been lost or stolen in order to file fraudulent returns.

Tax return scams typically involve a stolen Social Security number (SSN), as this is the number used to identify taxpayers. Accordingly, the IRS recommends that taxpayers not disclose their SSN carelessly.

Taxpayers may not know they’ve fallen victim to identity theft until they’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with their return or if they can’t e-file their tax return because of a duplicate SSN.

Another sign that could alert taxpayers that scammers have filed a fraudulent tax return using their stolen identity is receiving a tax transcript in the mail that they didn’t request.

If a taxpayer’s e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under their SSN, the IRS says people can fill out Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit (pdf). After filling out the form, the affected taxpayer should print it out and attach it to a paper return and mail it according to instructions.

“If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a paper return,” the IRS recommends.

Alternatively, taxpayers who have discovered that someone else filed a fraudulent tax return using their identity can go to and report it. If taxpayers so choose, will submit the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit to the IRS online so the agency can begin investigating the case.

People who suspect someone has filed a fraudulent return in their name can get a copy of their return by filling out Form 4506-F, Request for a Copy of a Fraudulent Tax Return (pdf) and following instructions on submission.

By Tom Ozimek