With the upcoming tax season, here are the tax changes for the 2021 tax season.
Scammers are targetting countless innocent taxpayers claiming to be the IRS.
First, these scammers attempt to impersonate IRS agents or organizations affiliated with the IRS, debt collectors, other government employees, and even the police. Once they get a hold of your personal information, they move onto another victim.
Here’s how to spot a fraudulent phone call and how to report it to the real IRS.
How they reach out to you
To begin with, the IRS contacts you by mail first, not a phone call, voicemail, e-mail, text, or social media. Do not open any e-mails with attachments or links which could infect your computer.
You should also take a closer look at the caller ID. Here is a list of IRS numbers:
- Individuals 800-829-1040 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time)
- Businesses 800-829-4933 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time)
- Non-profit taxes 877-829-5500 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time)
- Estate and gift taxes 866-699-4083 (8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time)
- Excise taxes 866-699-4096 (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time)
- Overseas callers (International Services page)
- Callers who are hearing impaired TTY/TDD 800-829-4059
Be advised, scammers also have the ability to alter their numbers by using an app. It would be in your best interest to contact the IRS directly when receiving a suspicious call and you’re unsure of your tax situation.
Asking for personal information
The IRS will never request your personal information as if they don’t know who you are. In other words, your first and last name, birth date, full social security number, bank account or credit card information. Regardless, they will already have all of your personal information, which if they need to speak to you, you can arrange an appointment at your local IRS office.
What you can do is ask for their badge number and name so you can take note of the information they’re providing to you. The only way you should provide personal information is if you call the IRS’ toll-free number 800-829-1040 and get in touch with a live representative.
What they tell you
Overall, the IRS will not contact you notifying you that you owe back taxes, you’re due a large refund, demand that you pay your tax liability without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed, or threaten to have you arrested, deported, or have your license revoked for not paying.
In some cases, scammers use legitimate IRS forms such as Form W-8BEN (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for the United States Tax Withholding) to obtain information from the U.S. non-residents.
Know your rights
If you didn’t know before, taxpayers have something called the “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” which is the right to the following:
- The Right to Be Informed
- Quality Service
- Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
- Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
- Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
- Retain Representation
- A Fair and Just Tax System
Above all, the IRS is required to speak to you in a professional, respectful manner and will never threaten you.
How to pay your taxes
Before you fall victim to one of these scams, the number one way to spot an IRS scammer is how they ask you to pay. For example, they will be persistent in asking you to pay your taxes with a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer.
The following are common IRS scams.
- We can cancel your social security number for your unpaid taxes
- Your identity was stolen so you will need to pay us to fix it
- You will be arrested if you don’t pay us right now
- We’re the [insert tax organization] and we’re putting a levy on your assets
- Give us your personal information by using Form W-8BEN
- Find out more information about your tax refund by clicking here (e-mail)
- Take an FBI survey by clicking here (e-mail)
Here’s how to report them.
Report fraudulent calls to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject of the e-mail as “IRS Phone Scam” or to the Federal Trade Commission by using the Complaint Assistant. Here are some other tax scams the IRS is aware of.
To double-check that you owe taxes to the IRS, contact them at 1-800-829-1040.
Know the signs and help others
Now that you know how to avoid these IRS scams, and in general, you don’t have to stress about fraudulent phone calls. Most importantly, you should look out for your older family members who may seem like easy targets for scammers.