Don’t Get Conned! IRS Phone Scam Tops List of Tax Scams for the 2016 Filing Season

With tax season upon us, and the tax deadline quickly approaching, it is crucial to stay vigilant and avoid falling prey to scammers and thieves who will take advantage of your stress to trick you out of your money. This year, the scam of choice—impersonating IRS agents over the phone, asking for money, and using various threats to intimidate people into paying money—while not original, is nonetheless effective.[1] According to the IRS Commissioner, in a recent PSA released warning about the fraud, “there are many variations. The caller may threaten you with arrest or court action to trick you into making a payment. Some schemes may say you're entitled to a huge refund.”[2] Scammers will even alter the caller ID to make it look like an IRS agency is calling and use fake IRS titles and badge numbers to make the scam appear legitimate.[3] Now, if you’re anything like me, you think that this won’t happen to you. Yet, you very likely could be wrong in this case. The IRS has seen a “surge” of these phone scams in this 2016 tax season.[4] I personally have received two such phone calls. Indeed, the IRS has received nearly 900,000 reports of such IRS scam calls from October of 2013 to end of January 2016, causing over 5,000 victims to pay out over $26.5 million.[5]

With the sudden increase in frequency of this scam, and the ingenuity that modern criminals are employing, it is important to keep in mind some key information. First, any phone calls allegedly from the IRS should instantly set off alarm bells; the IRS will not make an unsolicited phone call, and always first sends a written notice and/or bill.[6] Second, the IRS will always allow a taxpayer to appeal any assessment and will never ask for immediate payment.[7] Don’t get overwhelmed by a supposed phone call from the IRS, stay vigilant, and protect yourself from becoming another victim to this scam.


–By Tony Nasser, Esq., Barnes Law

 Tony Nasser is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.


[2],-Remain-on-IRS-Dirty-Dozen-List-of-Tax-Scams-for-the-2016-Filing-Season; see



[5] Id.;


[7] Id.