Throughout the year, we receive several client questions regarding the legitimacy of phone calls claiming to be Internal Revenue Agents. People are right to be skeptical of any phone call claiming to be from one of the tax authorities. The tax authorities do not call or use email to initiate contact with taxpayers. Any phone call or email claiming to be from the IRS should be first considered a scam.
These fraudulent calls are a form of social engineering that by design tricks a taxpayer into releasing private information. The fraudsters are very convincing, provide fictitious agent ID numbers, want payment over the phone, and often threaten arrest. The IRS does not conduct business in this manner and never would the IRS demand payment over the phone.
The best thing for a taxpayer to do when they receive a phone call that is claiming to be from the IRS is to hang-up immediately, then follow-up with their tax preparer. The tax authorities always write to initiate contact with a taxpayer. The letter is delivered by the US Postal Service.
I encourage people to report their incident to TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov. The taxpayer will not have the benefit of knowing if the information they provide helped stop or catch a fraudster but their effort may prevent someone else that might not be as savvy from getting the same fraudulent call. Tax_Scams_-_Protect_Yourself_2017
This communication may not be relied upon as written advice. This written advice is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer for following the advice. Other factors may need consideration that would change the opinion presented.