IRS Scams: IRS Sets the Record Straight

To help taxpayers avoid scams in which criminals impersonate IRS employees, the IRS has published a Fact Sheet setting out the ways it does, and does not, contact taxpayers.  Since 2013, the Treasury Inspector General reports that more than 10,000 victims have collectively paid over $54 million to scammers posing as IRS officials.

IRS impersonation scams continue year-round. They use aggressive and threatening phone calls, which go something like this: “Hello, this is the Internal Revenue Service calling to inform you that the IRS is filing criminal charges against you for back taxes unless you immediately pay the amount you owe today.” The scammers usually ask for small amounts of money, like $2,000 or less, so that you will pay immediately without question.

However, the IRS will never make such a demand or require immediate payment by a specific method.  The IRS only accepts payments to the U.S. Treasury. It will not ask you to pay by wire transfer or with a prepaid debit or gift card. Nor will it ever ask you for your credit card information over the phone or use recorded voice messages to demand money.

IRS will not threaten to bring in local police or revoke a taxpayers license or immigration status. The IRS will never demand taxes to be paid without giving you an opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, most likely it is a scam. Ask the caller to send you something in writing and then get their badge number and the name of their manager. All IRS representatives have official credentials, called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. This is government-wide standard form of identification and you have the right to ask to see these credentials along with a phone number to call to verify this employee number. Then you can call the local IRS office to verify the name and badge number.

If the IRS needs to reach you they will send you a letter by regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. They will never email you. If you receive a call out of the blue with no prior notices, it is NOT the IRS. However, in special circumstances they may call or come to a home or business:

  • When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill
  • To secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or
  • To tour a business, for example, as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.

Even then, you will generally first receive a letter, and more often than not, many letters (notices) before they will appear. By following these simple guidelines, you can avoid becoming the next victim of an IRS scam.

If you or someone you know are in need of legal advice or representation, contact our Texas tax attorneys at Cantrell & Cantrell, PLLC today to begin building your defense or schedule a confidential consultation.