Yesterday (Sept 22, 2016) we received an alert from the IRS alerting tax preparers to yet another phony IRS tax scam. Given the fact that these tax scams are getting more common, and more believable, it seemed like a good time to go over what the IRS will and will not do and what you should do if you are contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of the IRS.
The IRS Will Not Phone You
If someone calls you out of the blue claiming to be a representative of the IRS, they are not. Tell them you know it is a scam and hang up on them. Do not discuss anything with them. Do not try to prove anything to them.
These scammers can be extremely convincing. They can find from public records things like you had a tax lien 10 years ago and they’ll say you have an unsatisfied debt that you can clear up by giving them a credit card number, or even iTunes gift cards (yes, this has happened). This is a SCAM. Do not talk, just hang up. They have told taxpayers that there are special agents (these are IRS agents that get to carry guns) are just outside the front door and that if the taxpayers pay up using the credit card, they will send the agents away, otherwise, the agents will come in and arrest them. This is a SCAM.
We don’t think we are revealing confidential information when we tell you, not one of our clients is at a point in an IRS dispute where they would receive a phone call from an agent. We would know this and the agent would most likely be calling us, not you, to have a discussion about your account. We are happy to say, none of you have this problem.
The IRS Will Not Email You
The IRS does not send emails to taxpayers. They send a very limited number of emails concerning administrative issues (not client accounts) to practitioners. You will not get an email from the IRS. Do not click on these emails, delete them immediately. Don’t click on any links in the email…hit delete. If you get an email from the IRS, it is a SCAM.
The IRS Does Send Letters BUT…Scammers Also Send Letters
If you receive a letter from the IRS, immediately send a copy to us via mail or LeapFILE. There are different types of letters from the IRS and they follow a fairly predictable progression. If this is a letter from the IRS and it is the first one you have received AND they are threatening, then it is probably a scam. If they are saying you reported a $20 dividend from Coke and the actual amount was $24, and you owe tax on the extra $4, then it is probably real (You still need to send this to us before you pay). The scam letters usually don’t make a lot of sense or have a lot of detail – something like – you owe us money in the amount of $xxx…pay up. This isn’t what the usual IRS letter looks like. Send these letters to us so we can verify if they are a scam.
Details of the Latest Scam
The latest scam involves sending fake emails that contain “CP2000” notices. According to the Journal of Accountancy:
“The notices contain an IRS tax bill supposedly related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and 2014 health care coverage. They use an Austin, Texas post office box and request payments to the ‘IRS’ at the ‘Austin Processing Center.’ The email also contains a payment link. The fraudulent email lists the letter number as ‘105C.’”
As we said before, if you receive a letter from the IRS, send it to us to evaluate and deal with. When you receive a phone call, hang up. When you receive an email, hit delete.