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Source: Attorney General Rob Bonta
March 25, 2024 (Oakland) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert with tips on filing and preparing taxes safely. As Tax Day approaches, many Californians may seek out assistance with filing their state and federal tax returns. To avoid falling victim to a tax-related scam, Attorney General Bonta advises Californians to file early, take actions to protect themselves online, and learn about free or low-cost tax filing opportunities. Through the IRS Direct File pilot program, eligible California taxpayers can file their 2023 federal taxes directly with the IRS for free.

“For working families, tax season serves as a long-awaited opportunity to get ahead on bills, make needed home repairs, or finally start planning a vacation,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This Tax Season, we want to make sure Californians don’t fall victim to tax-related fraud or scams. I encourage Californians to review our website for tools, tips, and resources to make filing taxes easier and safer at And if you believe you are the victim of a tax-related scam, report it at”
How to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams:
File early — You are less vulnerable to scammers if you file early and have your refund in hand. Avoid putting yourself at risk of being the next victim and file your taxes as early as possible. 
Hang up the phone! — IRS and FTB will only call a person who owes taxes if they have tried to contact you by mail. Legitimate IRS and FTB agents will not threaten jail time or seek payment over the phone or through a wire transfer. Consumers should not make any payments and should contact the agency directly by looking up government contact information online. Calls impersonating the IRS should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Those impersonating the FTB should be reported here.  
Do NOT open the email — Never open an email or text message that says it is from the IRS or the FTB. The IRS and FTB do not use email, text message, or social media to request personal or financial information or to send notice regarding audits or refunds. Replying to the email, opening attachments, or clicking on links may enable scammers to collect your personal information or infect your computer with viruses or other malware.
Think beyond the password — For greater security, get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) for your e-filing account with the IRS. A new PIN is provided each year by the IRS. 
Use two-step authentication — Check on the availability of two-step authentication to protect your tax filing accounts (and other online accounts containing sensitive information, such as your email and social media accounts). Two-step authentication adds a second factor, such as a one-time use code that is sent to you by email, phone, or text. You enter that code, along with your username and password, to get access to your account.
Tax Preparation Resources:
You may qualify for free help! Many consumers turn to third-party tax preparation services for help filing their tax returns. Attorney General Bonta encourages consumers to find out if they qualify for free tax help.
IRS Direct File pilot program — Using the first-of-its-kind pilot program, eligible California taxpayers can file their 2023 federal taxes directly with the IRS for free. To see if you qualify for this program, check here.
FTB CalFile — The FTB’s CalFile program allows qualified individuals to quickly e-file their state tax return directly to the FTB, free of charge. To see if you qualify, check here.  
VITA/TCE — The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free tax help to people who make $64,000 or less annually, persons with disabilities, and people who do not understand English well. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those over 60, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues. More information on these programs is available here.
Quick Tip! You may qualify for cash back or a reduction of the tax you owe under the Earned Income Tax Credit and the California Earned Income Tax Credit programs. Check to see if you qualify for one or both!
Need more time to prepare? You can also use IRS Free File to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension, regardless of your income. You will then have until October 15 to file a return. More information on how to request an extension can be found on the IRS website.
Find a reputable tax preparer. Make sure your tax preparer is reputable and qualified to provide tax services. In California, only an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), IRS-enrolled agent, or registered-tax preparer can prepare tax returns for a fee. To confirm whether a tax preparer is registered with the IRS, check here
If you believe you have been the victim of a tax-related scam or other misconduct, you can file a complaint with our office at or with the IRS
To learn about how to protect yourself and your loved ones against fraud, visit our website at

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