Issue Number: Tax Tip 2018-102
Here’s how taxpayers can protect themselves from scammers
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to avoiding tax scams. Here’s what taxpayers need to know to determine whether an encounter — in person, over the phone or by email — is an imposter or an actual IRS employee:
The IRS Does Not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Demand taxpayers pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have someone arrested for not paying.
- Threaten to revoke someone’s driver’s license, business licenses or immigration status.
The IRS Does:
- In general, first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Normally initiate contact with taxpayers through mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
- Present official identification when visiting a taxpayer. Taxpayers have the right to see these credentials, and – if they would like – the representative will provide them with a dedicated IRS phone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.
- Call or visit a home or business under certain circumstances. This includes 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 as part of an audit or criminal investigation. Even then, taxpayers will generally receive several letters from the IRS in the mail first.
- Assign certain cases to private debt collectors, but only after written notice is given to the taxpayer and their appointed representative.
- Offer several payment options. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not a private collection agency.