FOX 8 Defenders: Tax tips, scams

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The deadline to file your 2015 tax return is fast approaching and this year, taxpayers should receive a brand new tax form, if you haven't already.  "Overall, the 1095 (tax from) just gives the IRS an idea of who had insurance," said Kemberley Washington.  Health insurance that is.  Washington, a CPA and Dillard University professor, who's also a former IRS agent, says there are three types of the 1095 form.

"If you purchased your insurance through the marketplace, you'll get a 1095 A," Washington said.  If you purchased directly through an insurance company or if you're employed by a small business owner, you'll get the 1095 B form.  The 1095-C form goes to people with health insurance through a larger employer.

Washington says taxpayers with a 1095 B or C form only have to check a box on their tax return, verifying that they have health insurance.  She says taxpayers who get insurance from the marketplace and have the 1095 A form may be eligible for a premium tax credit.  "The premium tax credit works two different ways, when you apply for insurance through the marketplace you can get an advance premium tax credit, which can reduce your insurance premiums or what you can do is wait until tax time and you can get a refundable tax credit," said Washington.

When it comes to tax scams, protect yourself from identity theft this tax season by guarding your personal information.  Washington suggests filing as early as you can.  Consumers trying to file sometimes find out someone beat them to it using a social security number.  "Some of the states are waiting to process state tax returns because they want to make certain that the information they receive is correct information," Washington said. 

If you decide to hire someone to prepare your taxes, make sure they're legitimate.  We're hearing reports of bogus business filings with expenses and lost income to inflate tax refunds.

And don't fall for what may be the biggest tax scam around with criminals pretending to be IRS employees.  They call taxpayers, tell them they owe tax money and threaten them with arrest if they don't pay up right away.  "The IRS will not call you, threaten you saying hey we need this money right now, and they definitely won't say we need a preloaded debit card," Washington said.

The IRS is loaded with resources.  For the rest of its dirty dozen scams, click here.

If you've got a consumer concern, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397 or fill out an online complaint form.

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