Getting a phone call from someone who claims to work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a stressful event. Unfortunately, a number of less than desirable characters know this and will attempt to take advantage of the stressful situation and gather personal information that could be used in a fraudulent scheme.
This fact puts those who receive calls or mailings from those who claim to be with the IRS in a difficult situation. How can you know if the contact is official or a scheme? Thankfully, the IRS is fairly predictable. Because of this, there are certain things that help us to better deduce if the contact is official or not.
The following tips can help you ensure that the contact is official:
- Formality. An agent of the IRS is not going to curse. An IRS agent will not threaten to throw you in jail. If the person on the phone or a mailing makes any of the assertions, odds are very, very high that it is a scheme.
- Payment. If the person on the phone or notification sent via mail includes payment instructions, the instructions should require that any payment be made to the "United States Treasury." A payment to any other source is suspect.
- Finality. Taxpayers generally have the right to appeal a tax decision. Any demands that are made without providing an opportunity to appeal the tax bill is a red flag that the correspondence is likely fraudulent.
Anyone that is dealing with a tax issue has options. If you believe you are the target of a scam, report the scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. If you have tax issues, contact an attorney. An experienced tax fraud attorney can provide counsel, better ensuring a favorable outcome.