Taxpayers who have paid any attention to the news in recent weeks and months have heard undoubtedly heard about the number of sophisticated tax scams that are targeting taxpayers across the country. These tax scams may come in many forms, but they are all intended to part a taxpayer from his or her hard-earned money or entitlement to a tax return.
For years the IRS has announced the most prevalent tax scams affecting the greatest number of taxpayers. While this information is released every year, it is especially important to pay close attention and pay close mind to the scams in years where fraudulent activity is particularly pronounced and present. The IRS’ list should be carefully consulted and taxpayers should always keep in mind that if the IRS needs to contact you for additional information or to clear up confusion regarding your tax filings, it will send letter via the mail.
Phone Scams, Phishing, and Identity Theft Top the List of Scams
Perhaps the most prevalent tax scam making the rounds this year is the torrent of fraudulent phone calls taxpayers have received from individuals purporting to be the IRS. Typically this scam begins with a phone call from AN UNKNOWN NUMBER OR, in some cases, a caller ID spoofed to make it appear that the call is coming from a government office in Washington D.C. The scam is identifiable because the caller will typically threaten drastic action against the taxpayer unless the individual immediately wires or otherwise sends a payment to an individual. Consequences threatened by the scammer can include: arrest, deportation/removal, calling the victim’s boss, loss of job, threats that the sheriff is coming to take the individual’s property, loss of license, and many other threats. Keep in mind that the scammer will attempt to find what will put you most ill at-ease.
Phishing is a term familiar to most people who have sent an e-mail or some other form of an electronic message. Phishing is, essentially, social engineering. Phishing often takes the form of an official-looking e-mail that purports to be from the IRS or another government agency. The e-mail will request the taxpayer to provide personally identifiable information that can be used later in an identity theft scam. In other circumstances the e-mail may include a link that loads malware onto the victim’s computer. If you receive an unexpected e-mail that purports to be from the IRS, don’t click on any links. Log directly on to the IRS website and call a direct IRS number listed on the site to verify if the information sent to you is accurate.
Identity theft scams including identity theft income tax return theft has become particularly pervasive in recent years perhaps exacerbated by the IRS’ widespread use of Social Security numbers in communications. Filing your taxes and claiming your tax return early is the best way to avoid this scam. Therefore taxpayers should begin considering their tax preparations sooner rather than later. If the IRS advises you that you have already filed taxes when you have not, you may be the victim of an identity theft tax scam.
Offshore Tax Fraud, Return Preparer Fraud, & Other Scams Continue As a Threat to Taxpayers
Failure to disclose the existence of or active concealment of offshore accounts in contravention of FBAR and FATCA as part of a tax strategy is an extremely risky strategy that can lead to the imposition of significant penalties. Furthermore, bad or self-serving advice from a tax preparer can have devastating tax consequences since the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the contents of his or her tax return. Other tax scams identified by the IRS as major concerns for 2015 are:
- Claims for inflated refunds
- Fake or overstated charitable donations
- Use of fraudulent documents to conceal sources or extent of income
- Abusive tax shelters
- Fraudulent claims for tax credits
- Fraudulent fuel tax credit claims
- Frivolous tax claims
The above covers only a number of the more prevalent tax scams. Taxpayers should remember that scammers are constantly tweaking and re-thinking their approach. If it doesn’t seem right and immediate action is being urged, you are almost certainly facing a tax scam. Take care and perform your due diligence before taking action.
Tax Problems Due to a Tax Scam?
If you have already fallen victim to a tax scam, you are probably begining to realize the scope of the problem caused by fraudulent filings and tax scams. Figuring out exactly what went wrong, assessing the taxpayer’s compliance, and taking corrective action after falling victim to a tax scam can be greatly assisted by the careful and on-point guidance of an experienced tax attorney. To schedule a no-cost initial tax consultation call the Hoffman Law Offices at 800-897-3915 or contact us online today.