Identity theft and other tax scams are commonplace. As a result, it is important for taxpayers to know how to protect themselves from bad actors that are trying to steal their information. The first step toward protection is to know how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contacts taxpayers. The most common forms of contact the feds use include:
- Good, old-fashioned snail mail remains the IRS’ most common form of communication. The IRS will generally reach out with a letter delivered by the United States Postal Service to initiate contact with a taxpayer.
- Phone call. There are some instances when the feds may reach out with a telephone call. However, before any call, the IRS will send multiple notices via the mail. It is also possible for the agency to use a private debt collector to call on their behalf. However, before a third-party call, the agency notes the taxpayer will receive two letters. The first will come from the IRS and state a private debt collector such as ConServe or Pioneer will make contact in the future about paying off an outstanding tax debt, the second from the private debt collection company assigned to your case.
- Personal visit. Even rarer, but not unheard of, is a personal visit from an IRS revenue agent or tax compliance officer. Those who get a personal visit should ask for identification. Anyone representing the IRS should have a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.
The IRS generally does not reach out through email, text, or social media posts.
Another way to determine if the contact is legit involves who they want you to pay. IRS tax officials will request the payment be made to the U.S. Treasury. Any other source is a red flag. Another red flag: the request for payments in the form of a cashier’s check or prepaid credit cards. These two payment tips hold true whether the contact is made by the IRS or a third-party debt collector, as discussed above.
What if I do not want to deal with the IRS?
It is important to take these contacts seriously. Taxpayers who are struggling with unmanageable tax debt have options. These can include a more manageable payment plan or a settlement agreement. The attorneys at Goldburd McCone LLP are familiar with these options and can review your situation and discuss the different strategies that can help resolve your tax case.