Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to avoiding tax scams. Here’s what taxpayers need to know to determine whether an encounter — in person, over the phone or by email — is an imposter or an actual IRS employee:
The IRS Does Not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
- Demand taxpayers pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have someone arrested for not paying.
- Threaten to revoke someone’s driver’s license, business licenses or immigration status.
The IRS Does:
- In general, first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Normally initiate contact with taxpayers through mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
- Present official identification when visiting a taxpayer. Taxpayers have the right to see these credentials, and – if they would like – the representative will provide them with a dedicated IRS phone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.
- Call or visit a home or business under certain circumstances. This includes 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 criminal investigation. Even then, taxpayers will generally receive several letters from the IRS in the mail first.
- Assign certain cases to private debt collectors, but only after written notice is given to the taxpayer and their appointed representative.
- Offer several payment options. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not a private collection agency.