There has been a plague of phone calls by fraud artists posing as IRS employees and demanding money. Between 9,000 and 12,000 complaints about these phone scams are filed each week.
The scammer often threatens to arrest the victim if he or she doesn’t pay immediately using a prepaid debit card or occasionally by cash in a meeting. Other threats include loss of driver’s license or business license.
Several of my clients have received these calls, and then my wife actually received one last week. The caller was from a phone bank in another country and threatened to stop by if we didn’t pay up.
If you receive such a call, just hang up. If they call back, hang up again. The IRS never initiates contact with a taxpayer by phone, email or text message. The IRS will never call about taxes owed without first mailing a bill. Nor will the agency require the taxpayer to use a specific type of payment, or ask for a credit or debit card over the phone.
If you wish to report the incident, call the treasury inspector general for Tax Administration TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 or go to tigta.gov. Since 2013, some 3,000 victims have lost an average of $5,000.
If you receive any communication purportedly from the IRS or the Franchise Tax Board let your tax preparer know about it so he or she can determine its authenticity and make the appropriate response. Many people receive a notice and are intimidated so they just send off a check to the taxing agency. Many times the IRS or FTB computers have trouble matching up information on the tax return with their records and hence issue a proposed deficiency notice. Please have your tax preparer check to see whether the additional tax liability is valid.
With identity theft rampant, fraudsters calling or sending emails demanding you pay additional tax, and severe IRS cutbacks in telephone service, your tax preparer should be your first line of defense against anything suspicious going on with your tax accounts.