For years now, the IRS has keep a page open on its website called “The Dirty Dozen” and it’s simply a listing of the latest and most common tax scams used recently. Of course, we monitor that page as well as listen to our client’s stories, so here are some new twists on old ideas. The sad part is the men and women who fall for these likely have far more challenges than tax preparation, and yet they’ll still be responsible for the monies they owe the IRS after they’ve been taken advantage of.
- “The Bureau of Tax Enforcement” In this one, an official-looking letter arrives, claiming to be from the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” In some cases, it’s mentioned the IRS, but in most, it simply states this bogus bureau is the collection arm of the IRS and is designating where taxpayers can call to pay over the phone or where they can send payment for purported shortages owed to the United States Treasury.
- IRS Impersonators This is a very old scam with a modern twist. An email or phone call, claiming to be from the IRS is received with incredibly detailed instructions regarding a taxpayers’ refund. In the message, the taxpayer is directed to visit a certain website to view their refund progress and, you guessed it, that site gathers the taxpayer’s information and steals their identity.
- Ghost Tax Preparers A taxpayer pays someone to prepare and file their return and that preparer (generally) makes certain guarantees regarding the size of the return. In exchange for a “maximum” return, the taxpayer will pay a premium – up to $1,000 – for the service, but the actual person who prepared the tax return will never sign the return (as they legally must do). The results? The taxpayer is “on the hook” for monies owed, is often audited, and the tax preparer has effectively defrauded both the taxpayer and the government.
If you think you’ve been exposed to ANY of these contact the IRS at one of their local offices or via IRS.gov.