Due to the recent rise in the number tax fraud cases, the IRS cautions taxpayers to be wary of any communication they receive regarding their Federal tax bill or refund. Phone calls, text messages, and emails that appear to be from the IRS may actually be from a scam artist trying to steal your information and identity. In recent years, tax scammers have become very sophisticated in their operations; they may appear to be very authoritative, even giving you official sounding (although invalid) identification numbers. They may leave you voicemail messages that claim to require an “urgent” response from you. They may seem to know a lot of your personal information, such as your full name, your address or PO Box number, or the last four digits of your social security number. However, it is usually fairly easy to identify whether or not you are actually hearing from the IRS. If you are aware of what the IRS will not ask from you, it will help you quickly discern the legitimacy of the communication.
The IRS has identified five things that an IRS agent will not ask or demand of you. First, the IRS WILL NOT call a taxpayer about taxes due without sending a tax bill in the mail first, nor will they demand an immediate payment for taxes due. Second, the IRS will not threaten you with arrest, warrants, or use of law enforcement to intimidate you to pay a tax bill. Third, the IRS will not ask you to pay your tax bill over the phone. Fourth, the IRS will not require you to pay your tax bill via a specific method of payment. Fifth, the IRS will never demand you to forgo your opportunity to appeal your tax bill if you choose to do so. The IRS will also not use unsolicited email or social media to contact you regarding tax matters. If you receive a communication from the IRS in which any of the above tactics are employed, you are dealing with a scammer and not with the IRS.
If you receive a phone call or communication from the IRS, and you are suspicious of the legitimacy of the communication, you can contact the IRS directly at 1-(800)-829-1040 to verify the authenticity of the tax bill or refund. If you are certain that you don’t owe taxes to the IRS, or have no reason to believe that you do (for example, you have filed your tax returns on time and paid any balance due), you can report the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) office at 1-800-366-4484 or http://www.treasury.gov/tigta, and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at FTC.gov.
Written by: Andrew Perkins, MSA