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Scams involving the IRS

Here is some valuable information from LISI Income Tax Planning Newsletter #191 (February 5, 2020) at https://www.leimbergservices.com:

“A frequent scam relates to calls and other communications that claim to be from the IRS.  Historically we could advise individuals to rest assured that the IRS only communicates via mail and any other form of contact should be considered a scam.  Vulnerable adults have been extremely susceptible to such scams.  The IRS recognized, in a consumer alert, that “thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams.”

Despite this acknowledgement, on January 28, 2020, the IRS announced that it has begun to conduct face-to-face contact with taxpayers as part of a special compliance effort entitled Revenue Officer Compliance Sweep (ROCS).  Initial efforts are targeting taxpayers in Wisconsin, Texas and Arkansas, but the plan is to, ultimately, expand this effort nationwide.

The IRS has indicated that it intends to provide an appointment letter requesting certain information to provide the taxpayer with the opportunity to call the IRS to set up an appointment prior to a visit, but the IRS acknowledges that the first face-to-face contact from a revenue officer is most likely to be unannounced.  This can be an extremely unsettling and scary event for anyone, but creates heightened concern if the taxpayer is a vulnerable adult.  While tax enforcement is an important function of the IRS, such efforts may further open the door to scammers impersonating revenue officers thereby subjecting vulnerable adults to greater risk of loss.

  1. Never provide a social security number or financial information to anyone based upon an unsolicited telephone call, or email;
  2. Verify that any written communication they receive originates from and is responded to a verified Internal Revenue office address; and,
  3. If someone comes knocking, demand that they provide two official credentials, which should include a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card.  Both of these forms include a serial number and a photo of the IRS employee.  While the revenue officer is required to provide the taxpayer with a phone number that can be called to verify the information sought and identity of the revenue agent, current scams often involve calls that provide a call back number that appears to be related to government offices, but in reality is not. Therefore, caution should be exercised if the taxman cometh to your door and efforts undertaken to verify the individual’s credentials before engaging in a communication that provides confidential taxpayer information.”