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How Do You Know It’s REALLY the IRS Knocking?

How Do You Know It’s REALLY the IRS Knocking?

Tax scams are a dime a dozen these days. Recently we’ve warned about phone and email scams as well as how to determine whether the letter you receive from a third-party tax collector is legitimate. Now the IRS is warning about a lesser-known but even more invasive scam. This one involves IRS impersonators visiting your home or office in person and demanding payment.

There are legitimate IRS representatives who may visit your home or office. Here’s what you need to know to spot imposters:

  1. IRS Revenue Officers (collection division) will sometimes make unannounced visits, but not without warning. The IRS will first send an official letter, including a request to set an agreed-upon appointment time.  After the initial letter, the Revenue Officer will likely call to schedule or confirm the appointment. If all else fails, they may visit unannounced. However, if you have been given no indication that you owe the IRS money, then there’s no reason for you to be visited by a Revenue Officer.
  2. While IRS Special Agents (criminal investigators) may also visit taxpayers unannounced, they will never demand payment on the spot. These are federal law enforcement agents and not tax collectors. They will not threaten you with an immediate arrest, either. A threat to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying is a red flag. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status.
  3. IRS Revenue Agents (audit division employees) may also visit, with prior written audit notice, and usually with an appointment. But, as with phone scams and email scams, if the so-called IRS representative demands immediate payment without outlining your opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe, know that it is an obvious scam. Payment should only be made to the United States Treasury and sent directly to the IRS.

Any visiting IRS representative is required to be able to provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and HSPD-12 card. Ask to see these credentials first. Then, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a possible scam. For more advice from the IRS, take a look at its recent notice IR-2017-86 called “IRS Provides Tips on Determining If It’s Really the IRS at Your Door” or contact us with specific questions.

Image Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

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