The IRS has a list of the "Dirty Dozen" tax scams on their site at www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Completes-the-Dirty-Dozen-Tax-Scams-for-2015. These are scams that have triggered the most complaints filed with the IRS, and can cause penalties and criminal prosecution for victimized taxpayers. The IRS can't say this enough: "Taxpayers should remember that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax returns even if it is prepared by someone else." (Quoted from the IRS page linked above.)
Be aware that if you haven't filed your taxes in the past as you should, you may be setting yourself up for the phone scams that are going around. Callers threaten taxpayers with arrest or penalties if they do not immediately pay back taxes using prepaid cards or similar methods. You need to remember that the IRS sends out notices by US Mail, and it will not request your personal information over the telephone. Hang up on these callers immediately and report the call.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from
the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
- If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
You also need to be aware that, if your personal information was stolen through one of the many data breaches that has occurred in stores and companies over the past few years, you could be a victim of fraud. If you try to file your tax return online, and are told that you have already filed a return, contact the agency immediately. Fraudulent tax returns using identity theft are on the rise and state tax departments are trying to watch for it.
The IRS has created a number of videos on YouTube to help you out. You can view their most recent video about avoiding scams, or learn how to choose a tax preparer, or several other topics.