Utahns encouraged to file taxes early

SALT LAKE CITY – Tax time in Utah and around the nation can mean more opportunity for those who steal income tax refunds through identify theft and other means.

Laura Polacheck, communications director at AARP Utah, says in recognition of this being Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, her organization is offering information that can help people protect themselves.

“Well, we recommend people mail tax returns as early as possible in the tax season, before the cons can beat you to it,” she states. “Also, don’t give out personal information unless you know who’s asking for it, and why they need it.”

Polacheck says criminals will file tax returns using the victim’s name and Social Security number, and will even claim the victim’s children as dependents.

She adds that there are cases where identities of deceased victims are used to get a fraudulent tax refund.

Polacheck says AARP’s Tax-Aide program, which starts Feb. 1, is one way people in Utah can file their taxes early.

“We are very proud of our Tax-Aide program,” she says. “It helped over 10,000 people last year, all around the state of Utah, receive millions of dollars in tax refunds, all at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Polacheck says the Tax-Aide program provides more than 100 tax preparers working at about 35 sites throughout the state.

The program is free to everyone, but Polacheck says its focus is on serving low to moderate income people over age 60.

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