Many people feel a sense of dread when they receive a letter from the IRS. Often, people will comply with whatever request is made, assuming that they must have made a mistake when completing their tax return. But what if that letter isn’t really from the IRS? Scams involving people claiming to represent the IRS are so prevalent that the IRS has an entire page on their website devoted to helping determine if an encounter is actually with an IRS representative.
First of all, in general, the IRS will not initiate contact with a taxpayer through a phone call, or in person. In most cases, the IRS will attempt to reach a taxpayer through a series of letters, often referred to as “notices.” It’s only after these letters have failed to elicit a response from the taxpayer that the IRS might call or visit a home or business.
If you do receive one of these letters, pay special attention to the details. Scam letters will use different forms of intimidation to attempt to coerce people into paying false tax bills. We have even received several letters sent to clients over the last few weeks that were actually advertisements, cleverly designed to mimic the layout of a typical letter from the IRS.
Also, keep in mind that the IRS will only instruct you to make payments to the “United States Treasury” and will not instruct you to use a specific payment method such as a pre-paid debit card, or gift card.
The IRS does not involve local law enforcement or immigration officers when seeking payment and cannot revoke your driver’s license, business license or immigration status.
Unfortunately, scams come in a variety of forms, and it’s always best to pause before responding. Whether you receive a phone call, letter or e-mail, take a moment to fully understand who is contacting you and what they are asking for. If you aren’t sure that the request is really coming from the IRS, feel free to reach out to us here at BBD to take a second look.