IRS Scammers (September 2018)

Tax Tips

IRS Scammers

By Michael Aston, E.A.
Alhambra Tax Center

The US Justice Department broke up a large-scale, multinational telephone fraud operation.

Over the past four years -- more than 15,000 victims in the United States lost more than $100,000,000 to the sophisticated IRS scam. And more than 50,000 individuals had their personal information misused (USDOJ statistics).

The money was routed through call centers within India, and wired back to the United States. Eight ringleaders in eight states were sentenced with (up to) 20 years in prison. In addition, 32 contractors located within India have been indicted on wire fraud, money laundering, and other conspiracy charges.

This is only a small win against the scammer, because others are still at full force. To avoid becoming a victim of scammers who claim to be with the IRS…everyone should know how the IRS contacts taxpayers:

·       The IRS does not normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email.

·       The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media.

·       When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by U.S. Postal Service. Fraudsters will send fake documents through the mail, and some cases claim they already notified a taxpayer by U.S. mail.

·       Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance.

·       IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.

·       Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice. All payment made to the private debt collectors must be made payable to the Department of Treasury and will not be in the form of gift cards.

·       IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.

·       When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayer should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a personal identity verification credential.

Source: How the IRS contacts a taxpayer -- IRS Tax Tip 2018-111.

(S-Corporation and Partnership extension deadline is September 17, 2018.)