Beware of Tax Scams During This Year’s IRS Filing Period
March 8th, 2018 by Bunch & Brock
We often hear about various tax-related scams involving swindlers who impersonate the IRS. It may come as a voice on a telephone saying you owe money. Or it might be during an online session that asks you to “click a link.” And part of the scam is that you will do something the scammers want you to do without thinking — give them money.
These crooks are getting smarter, absorbing technology into their various tax-related schemes. And this being the heart of the tax return season right now, we all should be more aware.
The basics of all tax scams – and how to avoid getting caught up in one – have not changed one bit over the years. Some things never do.
The IRS will never initially approach you online or on the telephone. You will get letters. If it’s serious, the letters will be certified or registered. If it’s drop-dead serious, you or your attorney will be encouraged to contact the agency via telephone to make an appointment to visit the nearest IRS office. And the agency never demands that you pay taxes without a chance to question or appeal the amount it says you owe.
Anyone who tries to convince you differently is a scammer. And that’s a guarantee!
But scams continue and here are some of the most common.
The First Three Primarily Deal with Identity Theft
Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft, especially around tax time, and be very careful to protect their unique personal information (PID – social security number, driver’’ license number, bank account numbers, etc.).
Refund Fraud: ID thieves obtain legitimate Social Security numbers and other personal information, then file fraudulent tax returns in others’ names to illegally collect their refunds. File your return as soon as possible to assure you get your refund.
Phone Scams: Callers impersonate IRS agents and threaten taxpayers with arrest if victims don’t pay with a credit card or wire money or send a prepaid debit/gift card. These scam artists will threaten taxpayers with arrest, deportation, license or green card revocation – whatever it takes to prey on the gullible.
Phishing: Fake emails or websites you visit that attempt to steal your PID are out there. The IRS never sends taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Nor does its website link to any such pages. Be wary of strange emails and websites that front for scams which steal sensitive PID. Report tax phishing scams to firstname.lastname@example.org
Face to Face Fakes?
The other two types of fraud can involve some ongoing personal contact. This exposure can offer clues as to how legitimate the “associate” is and whether or not you wish to continue the association. The decision is up to you.
Return Preparer Fraud: Practically all tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, but not precisely all. There are still tax return preparers who deal in refund fraud and other scams. All they need is unwitting (or willing) taxpayers to lend them a fresh identity to con the IRS and share a big payday by committing income tax fraud.
Fake Charities: Closely scrutinize charitable groups to which you contribute. Some may have names similar to organizations you are familiar with. Take a few extra minutes to thoroughly vet the 501(c)3’s you contribute to.
Additional information on other areas of common tax-related “misunderstandings” between you and the IRS (and how to avoid them) are listed below.
- Offshore Tax Avoidance
- Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns
- Excessive Claims for Business Credits
- Falsifying Income to Claim Credits
- Abusive Tax Shelters
- Frivolous Tax Arguments
If you need any tax-related assistance, we of Bunch & Brock Attorneys at Law are here to help. Contact us today at 859-254-5522 to find out more about how we can help you, or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation.