We have entered into a new and confusing landscape in which taxpayers receive fraudulent calls from robots and foreign nationals that compete with calls from recently approved tax collectors who collect on behalf of the IRS. The path forward for both taxpayers and tax professionals may be confusing, but we remain committed to providing practical advice to those in need.
While fraudulent calls made by imposters may be so poorly executed that it is sometimes hard to believe that anyone falls for their tricks, the truth of the matter is that people do and it is causing untold heartache and at great expense.
If you would like to see an example of what expect, click here to read an in-depth article on scam IRS phone calls, or click here to see the transcript from an actual fraudulent IRS calls (very funny).
WARNING: Taxpayers need to proceed with due caution
These scammers trick book revolve around a few of the same common manipulations in order to achieve their goal: ripping off the vulnerable. We recommend:
- Never rush into anything: many people’s past due tax situations came about through years of inaction. While it could sound appealing to “get it all sorted out” we recommend not agreeing to any plan until you’ve had a chance to review it with a tax professional (i.e. A CPA, Enrolled Agent or Tax Attorney) and at least with your husband, wife or business partner. As in medicine, a second opinion is clearly advisable when a diagnosis or cure is being proposed. Make no mistake, tax problems are serious enough to warrant the comparison.
- The IRS will never ask for your credit card info or an immediate payment: these are huge red flags that you are dealing with a scammer. They are attempting to use guilt and honest regret to abridge your judgement in the moment.
- Ask for identifying information, the office they are calling from and a call back number. Do not use the call back number they provide to you. Look up the IRS office telephone number using any search engine and call that number. IRS collections agents are Federal employees and have an ID number that they should provide to you at the beginning of the call. You should be able to ask for and be transferred to the IRS Revenue Officer or Revenue Agent.
- Signs that you’re with a Professional Tax Collector working on behalf of the IRS: You will have received two letters in the mail advising you that your case has been handed over to an approved private tax collection company, one from the IRS and one from the company itself, before the phone calls begin.
- Taxpayers: if you have questions call us directly (818) 704-1443 or use our handy taxpayer questions form.
We covered that topic in detail here.
Tax Professionals: Your community needs help!
As a tax professional you are a trusted advisor in your community. You have become the first line of defense against scammers and usually get the call when people have problems or questions. We suggest:
- If you have a monthly newsletter, whether electronic or traditional mail, use it to announce to your current and former clients the details provided by the IRS regarding their new programs of private collections. There’s a bunch of great material from the IRS.
- Train your staff, your accountants, assistants and receptionist, to refer your clients to detailed information by getting their email address and emailing them a link to the information on your website, the IRS site or by adding them to your electronic or traditional mail newsletter list. The tax code is updated with such frequency that your clients will benefit from understanding the complexity and solutions to complexity that you offer them.
- Tax Professionals: allow us to save you huge amounts of research time. Call us and get the right answer right away (818) 704-1443 or use our handy Tax Professionals contact form
This is a historically bad era for fraudulent phone calls. This is compounded by the new IRS practice of hiring outside tax collections firms to help them with their backlog. Be careful out there and, when in doubt, always opt for the fallback position of professional counsel when it comes to questions of your taxes.
*This article is presented for informational purposes only and should never be considered definitive tax or legal advice. Tax matters have serious financial implications and always benefit from expert counsel due to their depth and complexity. If you need expert tax resolution or audit help please contact the Tax Resolution Institute at (818) 704-1443 for immediate assistance.