IRS Warns Taxpayers Against Phone Scammers as Filing Season Starts

January 27, 2022

The IRS issued a warning on January 27th for taxpayers to beware of phone scammers who pose as agency officials to steal their personal or financial information.

“With the new tax season starting this week, the IRS reminds taxpayers to be aware that criminals continue to make aggressive calls posing as IRS agents in hopes of stealing taxpayer money or personal information,” the IRS stated in a press release.

Tax season, which officially kicked-off on Monday, is a prime time for scammers to attempt to steal taxpayer information.

The IRS notes that it initiates most contacts through regular mail, and not through email, text messages or social media channels.

Regarding phone calls, they are rare, but the IRS could call a taxpayer if that person has not responded to mailed communications. But the agency will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.

Another noteworthy tip is that Caller ID can be manipulated to falsely show that the IRS is calling when it is actually a scam artist.

“If you need reassurance that the call or email is fake, you can contact the IRS directly to confirm the message is not from the agency,” reports U.S. News and World Report.

The article also cautions that the IRS will never demand that a refund be repaid and to beware of an IRS agent who speaks using poor grammar or hostile tones.

The IRS recommends taxpayer receiving such calls should:

The Internal Revenue Service has designated January 24th the start to this year’s tax filing season and April 18th as the filing deadline for 2021 tax returns.

The agency currently does not expect to extend the filing deadline, even though the IRS continues to process a backlog of tax returns from prior years, according to NPR:

As it starts to accept this year's returns, the IRS is still working through millions filed last year. And that's just one of its problems.

'The service is in the roughest shape it's been in in 50 years,’ says Mark Everson, who served as IRS commissioner in the George W. Bush administration.

He says the agency is understaffed, has more work than it can handle and is underfunded.

The result, he says, is the IRS has ‘huge backlogs right now that are unprocessed returns from prior years, refund requests, a lot of correspondence that hasn't even been opened and ... it's very tough to get through on the phone. So that's a bad cocktail.’

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig noted that IRS employees will continue to work on areas affected by the pandemic, including processing tax returns from last year and answering phone calls.

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