We all know about tax scams and the danger of giving our personal information to a stranger. The IRS has appeared in news multiple times over the past few years warning American taxpayers about new methods used by some individuals to pretend to be the IRS employees. If you fall for it, this so-called IRS agent might engage you in a conversation about your tax debt, or force you to send a payment to the account that does not belong to the IRS. To prevent this from happening, you must know what the IRS can or cannot do, which will help you recognize any suspicious activity.
- The IRS does not initiate a contact with a taxpayer by phone or email, text messages, or social media channels.
If you have a tax debt, or there is an issue with your tax return, you will receive a Notice from the IRS outlining the problem. This notice will have a detailed explanation of the situation and a call back number. However, because it is possible to create a document that will resemble the IRS notice, you should check this number by calling the IRS general information line at 1-800-829-1040. If your tax liability is pretty old, and the case has now been assigned to a Revenue Officer, you might receive a phone call from this person, but only after a written notice sent to your mailing address from the IRS. This notice will inform you that your case has been assigned to a certain officer, and include this person’s ID and contact information, which you can also verify with the IRS.
- The IRS does not contact a taxpayer to request any personal information.
It does not mean that the IRS will not ask you to confirm your name, address, or Social Security Number when you contact their office. However, the IRS employees don’t call taxpayers and ask for their personal information.
- The IRS does not ask for passwords or PINs for your bank accounts and credit cards.
The IRS employee can ask you where you are banking (so that the IRS won’t waste time on locating your bank if they decide to levy your account). However, the IRS never asks for any information that can be used to access your bank account or a credit card. The government has its own methods to get your money if you refuse to pay taxes. They include sending an official Notice of Levy to your bank.
- The IRS does not insist that you make a payment over the phone.
If you contacted the IRS to check on the status of your tax case, the IRS employee might ask you whether you are able to pay the debt in full. If you say Yes, you will be provided with an official IRS address (which you should also verify) to send a payment. If you say No, you will be asked if you can sell or liquidate some assets to be able to satisfy your debt, or borrow from friends and relatives. The IRS employee will follow the script by asking you questions to determine how you can take care of your debt, but will not insist that you make a payment over the phone.
If you suspect any illegal activity, you should immediately contact the IRS to report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. If tax scammers contact you via email, make sure not to open any attachments, not to click any links, and forward this email to firstname.lastname@example.org.