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BEWARE OF FRAUD: Hackers are stealing people’s identity information to gain access to taxpayer refunds.

Tools help taxpayers understand filing process

Iowa Department of Revenue offers help to fight growing issue of tax fraud.

With tax filing season upon us, the Iowa Department of Revenue has released tools to help taxpayers better understand the filing process and assist Iowans in filing their returns. The easy-to-use tools are available on the department's website.

A new microsite, titled "Filing Made Easy," was created with an understanding that filing taxes can be stressful. The site explains the filing process in three simple steps. The site instructs filers on how they can check on the status of their refunds. The address is refunds.tax.iowa.gov.

2 additional resources
In addition to the new micro-website, two other new resources also can help taxpayers file their taxes.

• Tips for Filing Your 2017 Iowa Income Taxes provides additional filing guidance and a more in-depth description of the IDR’s process. It discusses the department's ongoing effort to stop tax refund fraud, and informs the taxpayer on payment and refund options.

• 2017 Expanded Instructions provides in-depth assistance to taxpayers on the Iowa 1040 Form.

A central and important message in IDR's communication with taxpayers is about the emergence of tax refund fraud.

Tax refund fraud by cyber thieves
"It's our job to collect the right amount of tax and provide you the correct refund, if it is due," says John Fuller, public information officer for IDR. "How we do that has become increasingly complex because of the emergence of tax refund fraud. Cyber criminals attempt to file fraudulent tax returns using stolen personal information from honest Iowa taxpayers. The good news is we take your security seriously. But our reviews take time, so we are asking for patience as we work to provide the right refund amount to the right person."

IDR’s efforts to stop tax refund fraud are saving Iowa taxpayers millions of dollars. In 2017, the department identified $44 million in fraudulent or erroneous refund claims. “This included over $17 million in claims stopped by our fraud review and $27 million in mistakes found on forms,” Fuller says.

Helpful reminders
Iowa taxpayers can learn more about the status of their refund through the site's Where’s My Refund? section. Here are some helpful reminders: 

• Once a refund is finished processing, the “Refund issue date” you see in Where's My Refund? is the date your refund was sent. 

• The “Return receipt date” confirms the day your return was received.

• Where's My Refund? is updated in real-time with your refund status and has the same information that the IDR’s phone representatives have, so there is no need to call, unless you have additional questions.

Iowa uses the federal Modernized e-File platform (MeF). The Iowa Department of Revenue began processing returns at the same time as the IRS: Jan. 29. The calendar year 2017 Iowa income tax returns are due April 30.

“The mission of the Iowa Department of Revenue is to serve Iowans and support state government by collecting all taxes required by law, but no more,” Fuller says.

Source: Iowa Department of Revenue

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