The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service extended the federal income tax filing deadline from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. That means that taxpayers could defer federal income tax payments, without penalties and interest, no matter how much they owed. This change applied to all taxpayers, including individuals, corporations, trusts, estates as well as those who pay self-employment tax.
But the IRS is currently issuing warnings to remind everyone that an extension of tax season is also an extension of scam season.
We all think that we won’t become a scam victim, especially one that involves taxes or the IRS. But according to the IRS, the number of complaints they receive is increasing. In fact, according to the IRS, through February 1, 2020 the IRS received about 2.5 million complaints with a total financial loss of almost $80 million.
And the scammers are creative too, using the regular mail, email, texts and phone calls to not only steal millions of dollars but also steal personal information. But did you know that the IRS does not initiate contact by email, text, or social media channels?
Beware of IRS Impersonators
A recent scam involves thieves impersonating IRS officials – a federal offense punishable by up to three years in prison by the way. Sometimes the thief impersonates an IRS official over the phone, via text, through email or also by knocking on doors.
Worse, some IRS impersonators escalate the impersonations quickly and use threats in order to bully people into paying phony bills. They might also threaten to arrest or even deport those who don’t comply.
So, the IRS wants everyone to know how to determine whether a contact you receive is in fact from an IRS employee.
If the IRS Comes Knocking
Here are the exact tips copied directly from the IRS website:
“The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.
Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail.
Note that the IRS does not:
Here is what the IRS will do:
If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will always provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. HSPD-12 is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to see these credentials. And if you would like to verify information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card, the representative will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.”
What to Do if You Suspect a Scam
If you or someone you know suspects a scam, here’s what you do:
Your best defense is recognizing the telltale signs of a scam. And then reporting it.