Tax season is upon us and that means the CRA scam will be in full force

A good reminder to research tax experts if you need help filing for 2017.

Another fiscal year is behind us as we head into 2018.

That means getting your T4s and other income or expense related slips all in order so the government can either get their share or, if you’re lucky, get a little bit back. BBB’s Canadian National Top 10 Scams are being released on February 28th and one of the usual culprits will be on the dreaded list: The CRA Income Tax Scam.

According Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre stats and BBB Scam Tracker reports, Canadians continue to lose money to the CRA scam. Over 5 million was lost in 2017 and that is likely a very low estimate as it’s widely understood that only 5% of victims actually report the crime.

“This one never goes away,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “However, we have noticed a new twist in the years-old scam. Crooks now call up unsuspecting victims, threaten them with arrest if they don’t pay their taxes and then demand payment in Bitcoin. No government agency in Canada accepts cryptocurrency as payment.”

Victims are instructed to go to the nearest Bitcoin ATM, they are told how to deposit money or credit card information and the money is then transferred out.

“The problem with cryptocurrency is it’s virtually impossible to track,” adds Kelly. “Once your money is gone, it’s gone for good.”

Identify the CRA Scam:

* The CRA does not make threatening phone calls demanding payment of taxes.

* If you do receive a call, employees typically introduce themselves in both official languages and give their ID number.

* Government agencies do not accept cryptocurrency as payment.

* The CRA will not solicit for personal or financial information over the phone or online. This time of year we see plenty of fake CRA emails making the rounds as well.

* If there is a problem with your return, the CRA will contact you via mail.

* If you have any concerns about your return contact the CRA directly.

* Here are some easy tips to help make sure you tax time is a smooth ride.

* Don’t procrastinate. Get it done. Filing late comes with financial penalties and who needs that. The deadline is April 30th, just so you know. You can start filing online as early as February 26, 2018.

* Is your return big and complex? Research tax specialists at BBB.org for reviews, accreditation status, and complaints.

* Use an online Tax preparation app. These have come a long way over the years in simplifying the process for consumers. Many offer suggestions along the way so you don’t miss anything in terms of deductions.

* Do you have kids? Keep track of everything you spent on them, particularly educational, sporting or health care expenses. Same goes for any expenses you may have incurred as a result of your job. You may be able to claim some of these items.

* Did you move last year? Believe it or not, you can claim some of your moving expenses so I hope you kept all the receipts and used a BBB Accredited mover.

* Do you work in a union? Yep, you can claim union dues as well. And don’t forget about claiming RRSP contributions!

* Now is a good time to prep for next year. Create a folder or place in your home where you can collect receipts and other tax-related forms.

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