RESIDENTS of four states warned of tax scam

Tuesday, July 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Treasury Department is concerned about people operating scams in four states in which they are offering to calculate the amount taxpayers would receive in tax-refund checks, a spokesman said Monday.

The Internal Revenue Service is looking into the matter, Treasury Department spokesman Robert Nichols told reporters during a weekly briefing.

There is no need for taxpayers to pay for such a service because the IRS later this month will send out letters notifying people whether they will receive a refund, how much and when.

Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Oklahoma are the four states in which the IRS has identified scams.

``This is outrageous ... and obviously we frown upon this,'' Nichols said.

The Oklahoma attorney general's office said no tax scams have been reported.

``Our consumer protection division is keeping an eye out,'' spokesman Gerald Adams said.

Internal Revenue Service spokeswoman Janice Lawrence said the Oklahoma office has received one inquiry so far, and residents should be cautious.

``Taxpayers would have to give out a lot of personal information to have the fees calculated,'' she said. ``We offer this service on our Web site for free.''

Individuals, groups or both were marketing services to calculate people's refunds for a fee, Nichols said. He did not know, however, whether people actually used the services.

Nichols said it wasn't clear whether the marketing of such services was a violation of any law or regulation.

The IRS' letters, or notices, giving people information on the tax-refund checks are intended to go out before July 20, which is when the first wave of rebate checks will be mailed out, Nichols said.

The actual check mailout will be based on the last two digits of the Social Security number of the taxpayer listed first on the 2000 return, starting at 00 and going through 99.

The amount of the refund will be based on the taxpayer's 2000 income tax return. The maximum will be $600 for married filers, $300 for single filers and $500 for heads of households.

The refunds are part of the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax relief package signed last month by President Bush.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has said repeatedly that taxpayers don't need to do anything to get a refund, other than file a return for the 2000 tax year.