Starting Jan. 29, it’s possible to file your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. And this year, doing so early might be important.
The data breach at credit bureau Equifax that may have affected more than 145 million U.S. adults could have lasting effects — including at tax time. If hackers gained access to the information on consumers’ credit reports, including their Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and driver’s license numbers, they could open credit accounts in consumers’ names, security experts have said.
To guard against that, the Federal Trade Commission warned consumers in September to file their taxes early — “as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can.” Tax scams are already a problem. They have caused “thousands of people” to lose “millions of dollars and their personal information,” according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social-media channels to request information, the agency states on its website, and taxpayers should not turn over information to anyone who contacts them in those ways. But the IRS does mail letters to taxpayers, and the FTC warned consumers to respond to any letters they receive right away.
In a statement shortly after the Equifax breach was announced, the agency said, “The IRS is currently reviewing and assessing this serious situation to determine necessary next steps.”