Taxpayers Report Receipt of Scam IRS Letters During Correspondence Season

By:
Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Aug 6, 2019

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This summer, as the IRS is in the process of sending out bills and notices—including notices regarding taxes owed by owners of cryptocurrency—scammers are sending out fake letters, hoping to confuse taxpayers into sending them money, according to Forbes. Because many taxpayers are aware that the IRS will not contact them by phone, scammers are trying to mimic IRS notices.

In one version, which the IRS warned about in June, the scam letters mention a fake tax agency. As the IRS described it, “This scheme involves the mailing of a letter threatening an IRS lien or levy. The lien or levy is based on bogus delinquent taxes owed to a non-existent agency, ‘Bureau of Tax Enforcement.’ There is no such agency. The lien notification scam also likely references the IRS to confuse potential victims into thinking the letter is from a legitimate organization.”

In other versions, according to Forbes, the fake letters claim that a warrant has been issued to the taxpayer over unpaid taxes, and that the warrant could result in arrest or criminal action.

Forbes offered some tips for taxpayers to distinguish real IRS notices from the fake ones. Taxpayers should look for these signs of a legitimate IRS letter:

• The IRS seal on the notice or letter;

• A notice or letter number, most commonly found at the top right-hand corner;

• A truncated tax ID number, along with the tax year(s) in the top right-hand corner

• IRS contact information—usually a 1.800 number. Taxpayers who want to check on the veracity of a letter can call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040;

• Information about taxpayer rights such as Publication 1;

• A list of payment options to the U.S. Treasury. If the letter asks  the taxpayer to write a check to any party other than the U.S. Treasury, or to provide credit or debit card information over the phone, or to pay using iTunes or other gift cards, it’s a fake.

In its June warning about tax scams, the IRS noted that taxpayers can view their tax account information online at IRS.gov to see the actual amount owed, review their payment options and call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

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