The “Dirty Dozen” is a list of common tax scams that target taxpayers. Compiled and issued annually every year by the IRS, this year it includes many aggressive and evolving schemes related to coronavirus tax relief, including Economic Impact Payments. The criminals behind these bogus schemes view everyone as potentially easy prey and everyone should be on guard, especially vulnerable populations such as the elderly.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a taxpayer’s stolen personal information, such as a Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a false refund. Thieves are actively working to steal taxpayer information and identities, and everyone should do everything they can to prevent identity theft.
Starting in January 2021, the IRS Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program will be expanded to all taxpayers who can properly verify their identity. Previously, IP PINs were only available to identity theft victims.
Starting December 13, 2020, the IRS began masking sensitive data on business tax transcripts. Previously, only sensitive data on individual tax transcripts was masked.
The IRS mails millions of notices and letters to taxpayers every year for a variety of reasons. If you receive correspondence from the IRS don’t panic. You can usually deal with a notice by simply responding to it; most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. Each notice has specific instructions, so read your notice carefully because it will tell you what you need to do. In most cases, your notice will be about changes to your account, taxes you owe or a payment request; however, your notice may also ask you for more information about a specific issue.
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for calls and email phishing attempts regarding the Coronavirus, or COVID-19 that could lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. Because criminals take every opportunity to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting victims during times of need, taxpayers should also be skeptical about text messages received and websites and social media attempts to request money or personal information.
Tax-related ID theft occurs when someone uses a taxpayer’s stolen personal information to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Thieves then use personal information like a stolen Social Security number. While the accounting profession and IRS work hard to prevent identity theft, taxpayers also play an important role.
There’s never an off-season when it comes to scammers and thieves who want to trick people to scam them out of money, steal their personal information, or talk them into engaging in questionable behavior with their taxes. While scam attempts typically peak during tax season, taxpayers need to remain vigilant all year long. For example, gift card scams are currently on the rise and there are many reports of taxpayers being asked to pay a fake tax bill through the purchase of gift cards.
New variations of tax-related scams show up at regular intervals, the most recent one related to Social Security numbers. Don’t be fooled, however; it’s nothing more than a new twist on an old scam and yet another attempt to frighten people into returning “robocall” voicemails.
Taxpayers should be aware that a new IRS impersonation scam email campaign is making the rounds. This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves and taxpayers should be on guard at all times.