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IRS scam calls: Small business owners beware

Like many Rocket Lawyer members, I am a small business owner. This year was my first time paying federal and state taxes for my small business. Having been a W-2 employee for most of my life, I am understandably cautious about my first Schedule C and reporting all of my 1099 income.  

I expected my first year of small business taxes to be complicated, but what I did not expect was a daily increase of scammer phone calls from companies claiming to be the IRS.  Almost every day I get a phone call from an unknown number with a pre-recorded voice that says:

“I am calling to tell you that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately.”

My taxes were done correctly, but I will admit that I was anxious the first time I heard this message. I could have fallen victim to one of millions of IRS scam calls that go out every year.

Since 2013, these IRS telephone scammers have defrauded at least 5,000 Americans out of more than 23 million dollars. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration warns that criminals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be the IRS and demanding that you send them cash via prepaid debit cards, money orders or wire transfers from their banks.

These IRS scam calls alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling and they often use real names and other identifiable information to make the calls sound official. IRS scammers are known to threaten callers that they are being charged with a criminal violation, a grand jury indictment, immediate arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license. Some schemes even state that you are entitled to a huge refund.

Here are some facts you need to know if you get an IRS scammer call:

  • The IRS does not call your phone to tell you that a lawsuit is pending.
  • The IRS will mail you an official notice to the last address you filed your taxes with if there are any issues.
  • The IRS will mail more than just one notice before initiating any type of proceeding and will give you an opportunity to appeal any mailed notice that you receive.
  • The IRS does not ask for any credit card information over the phone (you can use a credit card to pay your taxes, however, this is never required and credit card payments for taxes will require you to pay the processing fees.)
  • The IRS will not threaten over the phone that you will be arrested if you fail to pay your taxes.

The IRS will not call you to initiate a conversation about your taxes, however, if you think there could be something amiss with your taxes, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.

For example, if for some unexpected reason you miss this year’s tax deadline of April 18, 2016, these IRS scammer calls could be frightening. However, the IRS will work with taxpayers to resolve most issues, even late filers.

If you receive one of these calls, you can report IRS impersonation scams at the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Tax season is very much underway and these scammer calls get more aggressive by the day.

If you have questions about filing taxes or IRS tax audits, you can always ask a lawyer.

Amanda Gordon, Esq.

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