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ASK THE EDD ATTORNEY – IRS WARNS OF NEW TAX SCAMS

By Robert S. Schriebman

August 13, 2015

Introduction

On August 13, 2015 the IRS released for publication Tax Tip 2015-18 warning of new scam tricks by IRS imposters. Almost every week our office gets a call seeking help and advice as a result of a phony IRS contact. We always try to help assuage a caller's anxiety and we never charge anyone for this kind of help. Feel free to call us should you be on the receiving end of one of these calls.

Since October 2013, The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates that there have been about 600,000 contacts resulting in 4,000 victims who have paid them over $20 million. While this may look like a small return on the crooks' time investment, that 20 million lost dollars should have stayed in peoples' pockets.

IRS Warning

In Tax Tip 2015-18 the IRS explained that these scammers first preyed on older Americans, newly arrived immigrants, and those who speak English as a second language. Now it seems that these monsters have expanded their sphere of operation to swindle virtually everyone. Of course the objective of these calls is Identity Theft and a separation of you from your money. These crooks often threaten arrest or deportation or the revocation of your drivers' license, if you do not pay them. They now leave urgent call back requests through "robo-calls" and emails.

These crooks have gotten more sophisticated from a year ago. They now have caller ID, fake badge numbers and fake titles. Often they have accents. When you return their call you will hear background noise that gives the impression that they are working from a busy call center.

These scammers also copy official IRS letterheads when they use email or even regular mail. Recently they are using an actual IRS address where they tell an unsuspecting person that they will give them a receipt for their payment.

What The IRS Will Not Do

I have been representing clients before the IRS for decades. I know how they work. Let me give you some pointers of what the IRS will not do:

  • The IRS will not cold call you. If you owe taxes, but have not paid them, you can expect a series of IRS letters over a period as long as 1 year before you receive any call from them. You may not receive any call at all.

  • The IRS does not use email to communicate with taxpayers.

  • If you truly owe the IRS, you will receive a series 2 certified IRS letters demanding payment prior to any type of seizure or lien. The second letter in the series will offer you an opportunity to petition for a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing, where you will have an opportunity to negotiate a workable installment payment agreement without the fear of any enforced collection such as a bank account levy or wage garnishment.

  • If you owe the IRS under $25,000 they will not call you, but you can call them to work out a payment arrangement over the phone usually on your own terms. The phone number is 800-829-1040.

  • The IRS will never demand that you pay your taxes by debit or credit card. If you want to use this method of payment, you are going to have to make this proposal first.

  • The IRS will never threaten to call the police, the FBI, or any other law enforcement agency.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself

There are two basic things that I recommend you do to protect yourself from these scamming predators:

  1. Take a step back and ask yourself, "Do I really owe any taxes?" If the answer is no, or you are not sure, do not give anyone any information over the phone. Most people know in their hearts whether or not they owe the IRS.

  2. Call a tax professional in your community to determine if the call is legit. Most tax attorneys and CPAs are now aware of how these scams operate. If the tax professional you called wants money upfront, before he or she will give you an answer, call someone else.

The IRS also has a few tips for you to protect yourself:

  • Do not give the caller any information at all; hang up.

  • Go online to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA's "IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting" web page to report the incident.

  • Visit "Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts" on IRS.gov

Conclusion

I have been writing articles warning the public about IRS scams for at least the past year. I hope they have helped people. However, these scammers continue to reinvent themselves with new and bolder ways to separate you from your money. Be alert! Call for professional help before you give anybody a dime. Sadly it has become clear that local law enforcement cannot do very much to stop this menace nor can they get your money back. The best short term advice I can give you, is to assume that any call, from any alleged agency asking you for money, is probably phony. Hang up and keep your hand on your wallet.

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Robert Schriebman has a successful practice in the Rolling Hills Estates area of Los Angeles County serving clients throughout California and the United States. He has successfully dedicated more than 40 years to helping individual taxpayers, business owners, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys navigate the complicated tax systems of the federal and state governments.

Robert Schriebman has written the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See "California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures" and "California Taxation Practice and Procedure", both published by Commerce Clearing House.

Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, "IRS Tax Collection Procedures - A Manual for Practitioners" published by Commerce Clearing House.

Robert Schriebman has written over 20 books including the major manual used nationally by practitioners and the IRS, "IRS Tax Collection Procedures - A Manual for Practitioners" published by Commerce Clearing House in addition to the only 2 books ever published dealing with how California Employment Development Department (EDD) operates. See "California Tax Collection Practice and Procedures" and "California Taxation Practice and Procedure", both published by Commerce Clearing House.

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