by Hyejung Park, CPA

In times of crisis tax scams seem to increase.  In response, the IRS recently issued guidance which we have condensed & highlighted below.  Most of us believe we’ll never get scammed but fraudsters would not proliferate if they were unsuccessful.

Watch out for emails purporting to be from the IRS
The IRS says they will not send emails about tax bills.  If you get an email about a tax bill from the IRS, do not respond by email or click on links in the email.  This is popularly called phishing.

Watch out for fake charities
In times of crisis, it is common for fake charities to pop up in an attempt to run a scam.  Legitimate charities that can offer tax deductions will always have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that can be verified at  irs.gov.

Watch out for phone calls
Phone calls demanding immediate payment from the IRS are common.  The IRS says they will never demand payment over the phone.  Be suspicious of any call that does and contact the IRS independently via phone or the IRS web site if you have questions about whether you owe taxes.

Watch out for social media scams
There have been scammers impersonating a friend or close contact via social media.  They will often ask for tax ID information or social security numbers.  Be wary of ever divulging personal tax or financial account numbers and details over social media even if you think the person may be trusted.  It may not actually be that person.

Watch out for ghost preparers
All legitimate tax preparers should sign tax returns they prepare using a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).  If a tax preparer does not use a PTIN, be suspicious that they may be stealing your personal information.  Non-PTIN preparers are called ghost preparers.

Watch out for those demanding tax refunds
If you are contacted by someone saying the IRS wrongly issued you a tax refund and you must return it immediately, be suspicious.  Contact the IRS directly if you have questions about whether you owe any taxes.