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Guard against tax scams

With the tax season in full swing, Gerri Willis takes a look at some of the top tax scams out there.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK ( -- Paying your taxes is painful enough. Don't get scammed by con artists trying to get your hard-earned money. We'll tell you how to avoid the most common tax scams out there.

1: Watch out for fraud e-mails

Some scam artists are sending out e-mails to taxpayers claiming to be representatives of the IRS in order to get your personal and financial information.

For example, you may get an e-mail that notifies you of an outstanding refund and with a link that will take you to a Web site unaffiliated with the IRS, according to Consumer Affairs. The Web site then solicits your Social Security and credit card number.

Remember, the IRS does not use e-mail to contact taxpayers. If you're not sure if the e-mail is authentic, you can contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.

2: Get the right phone refund

This year taxpayers can take a standard deduction of $30 to $60 if you've made any long distance calls on a land-line or a cell phone since 2003. But the IRS says that some sneaky tax preparers have convinced people to claim a higher refund. In some instances, people are seeking thousands of dollars in refunds.

What's important to note is that you're still responsible for what is on the tax return even though you may not have prepared your taxes. So if your tax return has an inflated number, you could be facing an audit.

3: Beware of Roth IRA abuse scams

One new scam the IRS is keeping a close eye on this year is the underreporting of Roth IRA contributions. Some filers are encouraged to incorrectly underestimate the value of assets or stocks that are put into the IRA.

This circumvents the annual maximum contribution limit of $4,000 and allows otherwise taxable income to go untaxed.

4: Don't believe the arguments

And there are those people out there who make crazy claims that the government was never given the power to collect income taxes or that paying taxes is voluntary.

Don't believe these frivolous arguments, which have never succeeded in a court of law. If you do suspect fraud, report it to the IRS at 1-800-829-3676.

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