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IRS: Social Media Sites Can Provide Bad Tax Advice

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Apr 8, 2024

Social media is not the place to go for solid tax advice, The Washington Post reported the IRS warning taxpayers.

“Social media can routinely circulate inaccurate or misleading tax information, where people on TikTok and other social media platforms share wildly inaccurate tax advice,” the IRS warned, citing schemes that “encourage people to submit false, inaccurate information in hopes of getting a refund” by urging them to misuse common and obscure tax documents.

Aggressive tax advice is booming online, particularly on TikTok. One Miami-based accountant, who boasts nearly 240,000 followers on TikTok and 68,000 on Instagram suggested that, to take a tax-deductible vacation, one can merely schedule some meetings and call it a business trip qualifies as a tax deduction. She also has paid partnerships with tax filing and financial services firms Intuit and TaxSlayer.

Offline, she told the Post that viewers might need more information than the tax tips in her videos. “I’m a CPA, but I’m not your CPA,” she said of her social media content. “It’s financial education, not financial advice.”

Influencers on TikTok, as well as Facebook and Instagram, offer dubious advice.

One influencer advised buying short-term rental properties that lose money on paper, and use that to offset income from your full-time job. Another told followers to hire their children as employees and deduct some of their housing costs as a business expense — and if their accountant warns that could cause an audit, their accountant is wrong. Still others tell hundreds of thousands of followers to buy 6,000-pound vehicles, then write off the sticker price, maintenance and fuel.

"Social media is an easy way for scammers and others to try encouraging people to pursue some really bad ideas, and that includes ways to magically increase your tax refund,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in a statement. “There are many ways to get good tax information, including @irsnews on social media and from trusted tax professionals. But people should be careful with who they’re following on social media for tax advice. Unlike hacks to fix a leaky kitchen sink or creative makeup tips, people shouldn’t rely on made-up ways on social media to patch up their tax return and boost their refund.”

A TikTok spokesperson told the Post that the company removes what it deems to be scams or fraud from its platform, and promotes “best practices” when engaging with online financial content. The site prohibits content that involves the “coordination, facilitation, or instructions on how to carry out scams.” And TikTok’s financial decisions guide tells users to seek “credible sources to cross-check financial guidance.”

Making a case against an influencer just because of bad tax advice in videos would be immensely difficult, Nina Olson, who served as the National Taxpayer Advocate from 2001 to 2019, said in an interview with the Post. In that role, she campaigned for Congress to expand the IRS’s authority to regulate tax preparers and others who offer tax advice.

“You can’t stop people from saying stupid things,” she said. “It’s when they’re monetizing stupid things and you can make a tie to someone else’s act, relying on what they said.”

Maryland accountant Nick Krop, a TikTok creator, has been making videos since 2021 in which he frequently shows a snippet of another social media creator’s tax advice, then explains why it is wrong.

He doesn’t think the government should police what anyone says on social media about taxes, he told the Post, but he does think TikTok should make sure that users see correct tax advice more often than incorrect. “It would be nice if TikTok would elevate those people who are trying to correct the record,” he said.

The IRS said that the best place for taxpayers to learn how to use tax forms properly, and to accurately follow social media channels related to taxes accurately, is to go to, which  forms repository with legitimate and detailed instructions for taxpayers on how to fill out the forms properly. can also be used to find the official IRS social media accounts, or other government sites, to fact check information.

The IRS also encouraged people to report individuals who promote improper and abusive tax schemes, as well as tax return preparers who deliberately prepare improper returns.

To report an abusive tax scheme or a tax return preparer, people should use the online Form 14242 – Report Suspected Abusive Tax Promotions or Preparers, or mail or fax a completed Form 14242 and any supporting material to the IRS Lead Development Center in the Office of Promoter Investigations.

Alternatively, taxpayers and tax practitioners may send the information to the IRS Whistleblower Office for possible monetary award.

For more information, see Abusive Tax Schemes and Abusive Tax Return Preparers.

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