New Tax Year, New Tax Scams
With the close of 2016, Americans across the country are scrambling to get their financial affairs in order in preparation for the upcoming tax filing season. Unfortunately for the honest taxpayers among us, the dishonest are also working just as hard to steal the money you won over the past year. While it is still to be seen what new scams and methods are employed this filing season, these simple tips below will help protect your money, your identity, and your personal information.
- The IRS will never demand immediate payment via telephone.
Even if you do have a legitimate tax debt, the IRS always allows a reasonable amount of time to pay that debt. Furthermore, the IRS is typically open to requests for extensions or payment agreements. Anyone trying to tell you that you must pay an alleged tax bill immediately and without flexibility is likely a scammer.
- The IRS always makes its first communication with a taxpayer by mail, usually by sending a bill.
If you have not received a paper bill or letter from the IRS, immediately doubt any phone call, email, or text message purportedly from the IRS. Even if it is a legitimate communication from the IRS, you may still hang up the phone if you have not received a notice of taxes due. To check if you have a legitimate IRS tax debt, you may call 1-800-829-1040 to confirm.
- The IRS always allows you to question the taxes or appeal the amount they say you owe.
The IRS has internal mechanisms to appeal any assessed taxes with an IRS officer that has not previously been involved in your case. Although the Federal Income Tax Code is very confusing, the IRS is not trying to trick you into paying taxes.
- The IRS will never tell you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as gift cards or a prepaid debit card.
The IRS accepts all major forms of payment. If you are told to pay an outstanding tax debt in a certain manner, you should be skeptical and confirm that you owe that debt by calling 1-800-829-1040.
- The IRS will never threaten you with arrest or the police for not paying.
Many common tax scams, especially for 2016, involved a telephone call allegedly from the IRS threatening to arrest the taxpayer if they did not immediately pay an alleged tax debt, often by means of a specific payment method. The IRS is not permitted to threaten you with arrest or criminal charges when collecting a tax debt. Unfortunately, such practices remain commonplace by actual IRS officials. Nonetheless, if you are threatened with arrest, calling the police, or criminal charges, it is best to confirm you are speaking to a real IRS agent and have a legitimate tax debt before making any payments. The real IRS will understand.
- All IRS websites begin with “www.IRS.gov”.
Make sure to check all websites—especially to pay a tax debt—begin with “www.IRS.gov”. A false email from the IRS may direct you to an imposter website that looks exactly like a real IRS website, with any payment you make never going to the IRS, but instead lining someone else’s pockets.
Every year scammers get more creative and more convincing. Knowing these simple rules will help protect you and keep you from being one of the thousands of victims every year. Stay vigilant this tax season.
–By Tony Nasser, Esq., Barnes Law
Tony Nasser is an attorney 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.
 https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/scam-phone-calls-continue-irs-identifies-five-easy-ways-to-spot-suspicious-calls; http://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/01/08/7-simple-rules-to-avoid-tax-scams-in-2017.aspx.