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The IRS NEVER Makes Threatening Telephone Calls—Beware of These Tax Scammers!

Don't allow yourself to be tricked by these criminals.

A very disturbing trend in recent years is the fact that thousands of people have fallen victim to scammers who claim to be calling from the IRS, telling taxpayers that they owe tax balances, and threatening them with imprisonment and/or seizure of assets if they do not comply with their demands for payment.

Cognizant of this illegal activity, the IRS has issued several alerts concerning the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain taxpayers’ confidence, and consequently, access to their financial and personal information, in order to steal their identity and assets.

As the tax season heats up, so does the activity of the scammers. These scammers, who feed on people’s innate fear of the IRS, use this opportunity to place themselves right at the top of their game.

Every year, there are numerous reports of individuals who have received calls from individuals asserting to be IRS officers who make demands for payment of additional taxes on either underreported or unreported income, demanding that people either send checks to them to cover their liabilities or face the consequences. Victims are usually told that the money they owe to the IRS must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. As a result, thousands of petrified and unsuspecting taxpayers and have collectively lost millions of dollars and have had their personal information disclosed to these scams artists.

Allow me to state categorically that these culprits who are making these calls are NOT IRS officers! When the IRS raises an assessment, they NEVER contact you initially by telephone. The typical MO of the IRS is to send you a written notice in the mail. This notice gives you the opportunity to either object to the assessment, or agree—which of course, you must do within the time frame specified in the notice.

Please be very cognizant that it is extremely dangerous to converse with these people — they are criminals! You have no idea who they are, and in addition to ripping off of your hard-earned money, they also seek to obtain your personal information in the process.

If you were to receive one of these calls, my advice is that you hang up at once, or even better, let the perpetrator know that you are actually recording the conversation, and that you will be making the recording available to the FBI or other law enforcement entity. Never agree to give them money, and never ever give them your personal information!

I must reiterate that the IRS does NOT initiate contact with taxpayers by telephone, nor do they use email, text messages, or other social media channels to request personal or financial information.

Taxpayers need to be particularly aware of scam emails, which are designed to trick them into thinking that these are official communications from the IRS. These emails usually contain links to bogus web sites intended to mirror the official IRS web site, often complete with the IRS logo. The red flag with these fraudulent emails is that they usually end with “USA.gov” or “IRSgov” (without a dot between “IRS” and “gov”). Consequently, it is imperative that taxpayers be aware that all IRS emails end with “IRS.gov” (with a dot between “IRS and “gov”). Emails with any other endings are NOT from the IRS.

In addition, the IRS does not initially threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment, or any other enforcement action. They take these actions only as a last resort, after they have exhausted all other feasible options.

Also, the IRS will never do any of the following:

  • Demand immediate payment, insisting that you use using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer
  • Ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone
  • Threaten to have you arrested immediately for not paying your taxes
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to appeal the amount they say you owe

Identifying these red flags immediately will allow you to recognize tax scams from the outset, and will save you from becoming a victim.

I implore you, then, to please be very vigilant during this upcoming tax season, and be on the lookout for these unscrupulous crooks, whose main objective is to steal your money and your identity!

Read next: Do Your Job!
Milton G. Boothe
Milton G. Boothe

Milton G Boothe is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS. 

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The IRS NEVER Makes Threatening Telephone Calls—Beware of These Tax Scammers!
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