What’s the Real Deal When it Comes to Tax Scams?


As we approach tax season and April 15, the national deadline to file your taxes, scams involving the IRS will be on the rise. In fact, the IRS recorded a 60 percent increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data. Plus, more than 2,000 tax-related scam incidents were reported to the IRS from January through October 2018, compared to only 1,200 reported in 2017.

This season, they’re after everyone: individuals, businesses, bankers, and tax professionals. The following information will help you spot a scam and keep your data secure:

The IRS will:

  • Initiate contact through regular mail delivery by the USPS.
  • Instruct taxpayers to make payments only to the “United States Treasury.” The IRS provides specific guidelines on how you can make payments at
  • If an IRS representative visits you, they will always provide two forms of official credentials called pocket commission and HSPD-12.

The IRS will NOT:

  • Call demanding immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
  • Demand you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Threaten to bring local police, immigration officers, or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Revoke your driver’s license, business license, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their scheme.
  • Contact you by email, text message, or social media channels regarding your tax return or bill.

Choosing a Professional
Choose a legitimate tax professional by getting at least three business references and vetting online reviews. Also, check the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has had any customer complaints filed against them.

During tax season, random tax preparation offices may appear in empty storefronts in strip malls or around other properties. These can be criminal enterprises that will collect your personal information and then disappear with your documents and your identity just a few days later. If anything seems suspicious about a tax preparer you meet, remember you can always leave the office before handing any forms or information over to them. It’s your right, so stay safe!

Important Contact Information If You Suspect a Scam
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration: Visit the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call 800-366-4484 to report a phone scam.

Federal Trade Commission: Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on and add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Internal Revenue Service: Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System at

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