Tax Scams

Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts

IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scam

An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Or, victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.

If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Note that the IRS will never: 1) call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill; 2) demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe; 3) require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card; 4) ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or 5) threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

For more details on this ongoing scam, see:

  • IR-2014-105, Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Unveils New Video to Warn Taxpayers
  • Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-18, Five Easy Ways to Spot a Scam Phone Call
  • IR-2014-84, Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls
  • IR-2014-81, IRS Repeats Warning about Phone Scams
  • Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-17, IRS Updates Phone Scams Warning
  • IR-2014-53, IRS Reiterates Warning of Pervasive Telephone Scam
  • Special Edition Tax Tip 2014-10, IRS Renews Phone Scam Warning
  • IR-2013-84, IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam

Email Phishing Scam: “Update your IRS e-file” 

The IRS has been alerted to a new email phishing scam. The emails appear to be from the IRS and include a link to a bogus web site intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between “IRS” and “gov”), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Don’t get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS.

Taxpayers who get these messages should not respond to the email or click on the links. Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. For more information, visit the IRS’s Report Phishing web page.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.

Tax Scams

Don’t fall victim to tax scams. Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Some of the other recent scams the IRS has seen include:

  • IR-2014-39, IRS Warns of New Email Phishing Scheme Falsely Claiming to be from the Taxpayer Advocate Service
  • IR-2014-16, IRS Releases the “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams for 2014; Identity Theft, Phone Scams Lead List
  • IR-2014-5, Watch Out for Tax Scams as Filing Season Opening Nears
  • IR-2013-90, IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Relief of Typhoon Victims
  • IR-2013-33, Don’t Fall Prey to the 2013 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams
  • IR-2012-23, IRS Releases the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2012
  • IR-2011-73, IRS Urges Taxpayers to Avoid Becoming Victims of Tax Scams
  • IR-2011-39, Don’t Fall Prey to the 2011 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Education is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of these “too good to be true” tax scams. For more information, see:

  • Tax Scams — How to Report Them 
  • Criminal Investigation’s Tax Fraud Alerts

Phony Arguments

No matter how some things are sliced, they’re still baloney. If someone tells you that you don’t have to pay taxes, check out The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments. This IRS.gov exclusive addresses some of the more common false legal arguments made by those opposed to compliance with the federal tax laws. Each contention is briefly explained, followed by a discussion of the legal authority that rejects the contention. The second section deals with frivolous arguments encountered in collection due process cases. The final section illustrates penalties imposed on those pursuing frivolous cases.

  • IR-2014-51, IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments,  includes numerous recently decided cases that demonstrate that the courts continue to regard such arguments as illegitimate.
  • IR-2011-23, IRS Debunks Frivolous Tax Arguments, highlights the issue and possible penalties.
  • IR-2004-41 describes the increasingly strong penalties the courts have imposed from March 2003 to March 2004 on taxpayers who pursued frivolous cases to delay IRS collection actions.
  • IR-2003-28 details penalties the Tax Court imposed from April 2001 until early March 2003 for making frivolous Collection Due Process arguments.

Identity Theft Scams

The IRS has issued several consumer warnings about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scamsters will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims. When identity theft takes place over the Internet (email), it is called phishing.

The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or from an IRS-related component such as EFTPS, should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Additionally, clicking on attachments to or links within an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS may download a malicious computer virus onto your computer.

Learn more about identity theft.

Learn how to protect your personal information.

You may also report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Reporting Tax-Related Schemes, Scams, Identity Theft and Fraud

To report the various types of tax-related illegal activities, refer to our chart explaining the types of activity and the appropriate forms or other methods to use.

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