IRS encourages taxpayers to be vigilant against tax season scammers through education
ATLANTA – With the kickoff of tax season on Jan. 23, taxpayers are being asked to be especially vigilant against scammers who will be working extra hard trying to take advantage of them during this period.
“It is important for taxpayers to educate themselves on the tactics criminals use when trying to separate them from their hard-earned money,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “On the IRS.gov website, taxpayers can enter the word scams in the search bar for information on the types of scams criminals are using.”
One of the scams criminals are using involves calling taxpayers posing as IRS agents to steal taxpayer money and personal information.
“Taxpayers can avoid being victims of these scams by knowing the IRS will never ask for specific payments, threaten to bring in law enforcement or make any kinds of threats,” Dorsey said. “I encourage taxpayers to read their rights as taxpayers.”
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, adopted in 2014, has a set of fundamental rights taxpayers should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. A list and video explaining the ten rights can be found at https://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/get-help/taxpayer-rights/.
It is also important that taxpayers choose their tax preparers carefully.
“There are many honest tax preparers who help their clients submit their returns properly,” Dorsey said. “Unfortunately, there are tax preparers who engage in unscrupulous activities, including inflating personal or business expenses, creating false deductions and excessive exemptions.”
Although in many cases, the client is unaware of the tax preparer’s actions, they still can be held accountable for their return.
“The taxpayer client must remember that they are ultimately responsible for the tax return that is filed with the IRS,” Dorsey said. “Taxpayers can visit the IRS website for tips on finding a quality tax preparer.”
For more information on how to avoid scams concerning taxes, visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/avoid-scams-know-the-facts-on-how-the-irs-contacts-taxpayers
Tips to avoid fraud this filing season:
- Choose a tax preparer wisely. Look for a preparer who is available year-round.
- Ask your tax preparer for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). All paid preparers are required to have one.
- Don’t use a ghost preparer. They won’t sign a tax return they prepare for you.
- Don’t fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. All taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.
- Don’t sign a blank tax return. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on tax returns filed with the IRS.
- Make sure you receive your refund. Your refund should be deposited into your bank account, not your tax preparer’s.
- The IRS will not call you threatening legal action. If you receive a call like this, hang up, it’s a scam!
- Don’t respond to or click links in text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS. They may contain malware that could compromise your personal information.
- Protect your personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS.
- Report fraud to law enforcement. Submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral, if you suspect an individual or a business is committing fraud.
IRS Criminal Investigation serves the American public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes in a manner that fosters confidence in the tax system and compliance with the law. The Atlanta Field Office covers the states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.