As we enter February and the income tax season, the IRS once again has issued consumer warnings about common Tax Scams. This year, three of the most popular scams being reported are straight from the agency’s “Dirty Dozen” list. According to the IRS, these ongoing scams are costing taxpayers millions!

Topping this year’s scam alerts is an email phishing scam. According to the IRS, the email “appears to be from the IRS and includes a link to a bogus web site intended to mirror the official IRS web site.” These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” The emails may mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between “IRS” and “gov”), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Don’t get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS. Clicking on the link and entering any information can cause you to be a victim of identity theft.

The agency also advises that the phone scam first reported by MBAF in 2014, continues. The callers claim to be from the IRS, and very aggressively demand payments, or the receiver can face arrest. Please note the IRS NEVER calls a taxpayer without having sent a letter first, and will never demand payments, or threaten you without giving you the opportunity to dispute the debt, or make a payment plan.

Rounding out the agency’s current “top three” tax scams is someone filing a fraudulent return in your name. This is usually the result of falling prey to one of the other scams. Once someone obtains your social security number or your tax ID number, they file a fraudulent return on your behalf and obtain a refund in your name. This can be a nightmare when you go to file your legitimate tax return. The IRS says they have put in new safeguards this year to avoid fraudulent returns, and to better identify those that have been filed by a scammer.

What to Do if you Think you Have Been Scammed

If you receive any email as described, no matter how official it looks, do not click on any of the links within; if you do, you will be taken to a phishing site and/or open your system up to malicious software.

You should report it to the federal authorities by forwarding it to phishing@irs.gov.

If you get a suspicious phone call, give them no information and hang up. Contact the IRS to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.

Also, report the call to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

MBAF reminds all taxpayers, and even tax professionals, that the IRS and its affiliated organizations do not send any unsolicited electronic communications, nor make first contact regarding tax matters via email, or any other digital media, including phone texts.

Compliance with and understanding the difference between scams and legitimate income tax problems, can be complex. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have further questions on this Advisory, do not hesitate to contact our Tax and Accounting Specialists, or call us at 1-800-239-1474.