Earlier this year I received a voicemail message from my Mom. She was in a full-blown panic and she desperately needed my help. She told me the IRS had just called her and told her they had assessed thousands of dollars in penalties and that they needed payment right away. Lucky for her, amid her panic, she hung up and called me instead.
She is not alone. Many Americans receive calls like this each year and this type of scam tactic is becoming more popular. These scams run year-round. Scammers continue to pose as IRS agents and attempt to scare individuals into sending them money. Scare tactics range from reading out fake badge numbers to threatening to call the authorities. Many times these scammers are successful.
Getting a hold of an IRS agent is not easy. Even as a tax professional, one must navigate through long and tedious menus over the phone and often wait on hold for long periods of time. The IRS will never call or email an individual to demand money. In the case that you do have a tax liability, they will issue you a notice via mail. This notice will give you the appropriate call back numbers and addresses to respond to and resolve the issue (if needed). Furthermore, the IRS will never:
1. Call or email you to demand immediate payment, especially by asking for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.
2. Demand payment by pre-paid debit cards, or gift cards.
3. Demand that you pay taxes right away and not allow you to discuss or appeal the amount you supposedly owe.
4. Ask that you verify your personal information such as your social security number, name, and address.
Unfortunately, scammers have started to also send fake letters and bogus emails with the IRS logo to individuals. If you are unsure about a letter and/or email, we encourage you to call the hotlines listed on their website, or contact your CPA for assistance.
IRS hotline numbers can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/e-file-providers/contact-irs-for-more-information
For a list of Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts