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Senators Demand IRS Action on AI-Generated Tax Scams

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 4, 2023

A bipartisan group of senators has asked IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel to take steps to foil tax scams generated by AI tools such as deepfakes and chatbots.

In a letter to the commissioner, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.) warned of more official-looking scam messages sent to taxpayers by tools such as ChatGPT. These deceptions, which “are intended to steal Americans’ personal financial information and trick people into paying fake fines or taxes,” represent “an emerging threat to taxpayers,” they wrote.

They noted that "one cybersecurity expert demonstrated how ChatGPT can be used to generate scam messages from the IRS targeting families, older Americans, and small businesses. For example, ChatGPT generated a fake email from the IRS claiming that, in order to receive a $1,450 tax refund, an individual needed to respond with personal financial information."

Other examples they cited were ChatGPT producing a transcript in which a scammer, impersonating an IRS agent, pressured a senior citizen to pay a fake tax debt, and a ChatGPT-generated message asking a business owner for sensitive employee and payroll information in order to receive the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

The senators urged the IRS to counter AI-generated tax scams, and asked a series of questions to be answered by May 31. The questions concerned how the IRS is preparing to defend against and respond to AI-generated tax scams; how the agency will educate taxpayers and tax professionals about the existence of typical AI-generated tax scams, including how it will respond to them with timely warnings; how the IRS anticipates the growth of these scams and their effect on taxpayer service; and what reports of AI-generated scams the agency has received to date, and the estimated total dollar amount related to these scams.

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