Articles

Taxpayer Scams Don’t Stop During the Summer by Joseph C. Leuchter, CPA


Posted on July 23, 2019 by Joseph Leuchter

As Americans enjoy their summer vacations, criminals remain hard at work devising new scams to steal taxpayers’ identities and intercept their tax refunds. The IRS reminds taxpayers to stay alert to tax-related schemes throughout the year, even after the April tax filing deadline.

Most criminals conduct their scams via email and telephone, posing as agents of the IRS or another government agency, and threatening victims with fines or even arrest for failure to pay a non-existent tax liability. Criminals can fake, or “spoof”, caller ID numbers to make it appear that they are calling from legitimate federal agencies or a local IRS office, sheriff’s department or a state’s department of motor vehicles. Scammers are similarly adept at phishing schemes in which they use email to try and trick victims into sharing their sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers (SSNs), usernames, passwords and financial account information.

The IRS urges taxpayers to be on alert to the following schemes that it recently identified:

Taxpayers can protect themselves from becoming victims when they remember that the IRS will never initiate contact via email. Rather, the agency’s first method of communication is normally via a letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. If the taxpayer owes tax, the letter will include a bill with an option for the taxpayer to make payments to the U.S. Treasury. A taxpayer may receive a phone call from the IRS only after the agency has made multiple attempts to reach the taxpayer via mail. At all times, taxpayers have the right to see and verify the credentials of persons claiming to represent the IRS or one of its privately contracted collections agencies before divulging any of their personal information.

Finally, taxpayers should look out for the following telltale signs of scams, which the IRS will never do:

About the Author: Joseph C. Leuchter, CPA, is a senior manager of tax services with Berkowitz Pollack Brant, where he helps individuals and businesses grow their wealth and profits while maintaining tax efficiency and compliance. He can be reached at the CPA firm’s Miami office at (305) 379-7000 or via email at info@bpbcpa.com.

 

Information contained in this article is subject to change based on further interpretation of tax laws and subsequent guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service.