Electronic communication is a wonderful thing when used appropriately for a legitimate purpose. Emailing a friend or business associate is much quicker, and sometimes more reliable, than mail. The ability to electronically file your tax return results in quicker processing and faster refunds. It is also easier because you do not need to stand in line at the post office to receive stamped confirmation of mailing your return.
But, electronic communication carries greater risks, especially during tax season. While scams are always present in today’s society, the risk of a scam rises during tax season. Scams directed towards taxpayers are constantly evolving after taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service catch on to the last scam. Taxpayers must be especially vigilant at spotting a scam during tax season. The Internal Revenue Service advises taxpayers that scammers use specific methods to perpetrate scams and provides the following information to help spot a scam.
SSN Scam of the Season
It seems that each year scam artists devise a new plan to glean information or even extract financial data from unwitting people by calling them and posing as an agent of the IRS or the Department of Treasury. Most calls will include a demand for payment or a request for personal information such as your social security number. Obtaining a social security number is very powerful for these unscrupulous actors in achieving their thievery objective. The newest scam involves robocalls alerting a potential victim to suspension of their social security number and directing them to push a number to speak with an operator. This fear tactic is also generally associated with a required payment to a specific account that they control. This is clearly an SSN scam – your social security number will NEVER be suspended. You should always hang up on these calls immediately. In addition, make a note of the actual phone number that called you because this will help in shutting down the number. The IRS encourages reporting these calls as soon as possible. Taxpayer scams are a real problem for the Service and they are serious about prosecuting these thieves who are using the power of the federal government to dupe individuals into compliance with their demands.
The IRS Will Not Call You for Payment
This is worth repeating: THE IRS WILL NOT CALL YOU AND DEMAND PAYMENT! The first rule when dealing with the Internal Revenue Service is to understand that the Service will not call anyone on the phone and demand payment of any type. The agency will typically send a letter stating that they have made a change to your return and you owe additional tax or you have unpaid taxes for a tax year or you are being audited. The letter will always provide a phone number and address to contact the Service if the taxpayer wants to discuss the issue. The letter will also always provides a time limit for responding to the Service. If you receive a letter or notice from the IRS and doubt its authenticity, you can contact the IRS, a tax attorney or an accountant for further guidance.
Any individual who has received a call or other form of communication where the caller is acting like an agent of the government should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and also email information, including your contact information, to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org. This will assist the Service in tracking and shutting down the scammers. You should also report a phone call to the Federal Trade Commission. While no one ever really wants to communicate with the Internal Revenue Service, reporting scams is of great help to others who may be targeted and assists the Service in shutting down these operations. The Service is clearly your best advocate in stopping taxpayer scams.
The preceding is solely intended for informational purposes and is not intended as legal or tax advice. It is important for taxpayers to consult with an experienced tax attorney or Certified Public Accountant. Contact our office if you would like to further discuss your taxes