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Beware of Scams Impersonating the IRS

As tax season continues, taxpayers are going through the stress of organizing their tax documents, filing their tax return and paying their tax. In the midst of it all, scammers are taking advantage of the situation.

The IRS has issued multiple warnings regarding these types of scams and to clarify their procedures. IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2016-19 states:

The real IRS will NOT:

  1. Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  2. Demand tax payment and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  3. Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For example, demand that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  4. Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  5. Threaten to bring in local police or other agencies to arrest you without paying.
  6. Threaten you with a lawsuit.

For more detail, some of the typical scams are:

  1. Phone Scam

Scammers pretend to be the IRS and call taxpayers on their home phone. They will claim you owe the IRS money, and if you don’t pay immediately, you will be sued by the IRS, and/or the IRS will start criminal action against you. They intend to obtain money, financial information, and personal information from you. Some of them will even alter their caller ID to seem more legitimate, i.e. U.S. Tax, U.S. Collections.  If this happens to you, hang up before providing any information.  The scammers are very skilled at using any information you provide to sound more legitimate. When in doubt you can call the IRS help line at 800-829-1040 to verify if your account has any issues.

  1. Phishing emails/mail.

Scammers also send out emails or letters to taxpayers demanding payment or a reply with information.  They will be claiming the same things as the phone scams.  First, the IRS will never contact you through email.  Second, the IRS generally does not use regular stamps or printed stamps for their bills. Therefore, if you have an email it is a scam.  If you have a letter with a regular stamp or printed postage it is also a scam.  When in question about a letter with printed postage directly on the envelope that appears to be legitimate, contact a tax professional who should be able to validate with a quick glance.

  1. Sham tax return.

Another scam that is popular during tax season is the sham tax return. Scammers use your information to file a false return requesting for a refund to be paid to their address or account. This type of scam may prevent you from e-filing your actual return and obtaining your refund. In some cases, the IRS may come after you for additional tax.  There is not much that can be done to prevent this, other than typical security procedures for protecting your identify.  However, it is good to be aware so that if you run into trouble you know this is a possibility.

If you have received any of these type of scam attempts, you can report them to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, by going to their website:

https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml

You can also forward phishing emails to phishing@irs.gov.  If you have any questions regarding a possible IRS scam or if a correspondence is legitimate, contact us at Hone Maxwell LLP today for a review of your situation.

Disclaimer: Hone Maxwell LLP articles and blogs are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts, facts specific to your situation or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information herein.

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