This is one of those topics that I truly hate. Most people genuinely work hard for their money. Some do very well in paying themselves first, invest their money and are very frugal when it comes to spending. Not to mention they don’t take out any debt if it is not necessary (like for buying a house). But I truly despise when someone tries to take someone else’s hard earned money by duping them into thinking they need to do something.
The common story is someone will receive an email or phone call that says your are in trouble with the IRS or you owe the IRS a lot of money. The latest one someone sent me was that a complaint was filed with the IRS about you. My client received this in an email. The IRS does not email you at all. I cannot even get them to email me when I am working on a case with them. In general, the IRS does not call you, but if they do, ask them to contact your CPA or for them to come by your office. Do not let anyone bully you in to giving up personal information like your social security number or your date of birth. Especially, do not give them your bank account information to pay any taxes or fines. If they threaten to come arrest you, challenge them to do so. All they are hoping is that you are gullible enough to give them something they can use and somehow take money from you or someone else (like the government). If you truly have issues with the IRS, you can call them at 800-829-1040 to confirm or wait for the letter telling you that you owe something.
Please note that there are variations of this scam. Your bank or credit card won’t call or email asking for any personal information. The sheriff will not call you telling you they will arrest you if you don’t give them money. They just come to your door to arrest you. Also, please be careful on other variations of this scam. Most grandchildren will not call for bail money, but if they do, ask them questions that only they will know to confirm it is them. The power or water company will generally not call you or threaten to turn off your services. They send a letter to do that and sometimes it even comes as a certified letter.
If you have a professional prepare your return (I recommend using a CPA or EA), choose carefully since you’re going to share all your financial information with them. While most preparers provide excellent service to their clients, a few unscrupulous return preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns and ultimately defraud their clients. Please do your due diligence and ask around for a referral from a friend. Call your local Chamber of Commerce or other trusted source of information.
Even if someone else prepares your return, you’re still responsible for the information on the tax return.
Please do what you can to protect yourself and your family from these scammers. Please teach your children and your elderly parents about these simple things so they do not get bilked of their life savings.
I hope you are having the best and most phenomenal day of your life.
Dan Henn, CPA
Daniel Henn, CPA, CTR