IRS Tax Scams

Tax scammers impersonating the IRS either by phone, email or in person cost people their time and money. The IRS estimates that scams cost victims over $38 million.

Here are several tips from the IRS to help you avoid being a victim of  IRS tax scams:

  • IRS Tax Scams use scare tactics. Criminals impersonate IRS employees and call taxpayers in aggressive and sophisticated ways. Imposters claim to be IRS employees and sound very convincing. Scammers use fake names and phony IRS identification badge numbers. They’re demanding and threatening and do not reflect how the IRS handles enforcement matters. These aggressive and sophisticated scammers try to scare people into making an immediate payment. Often they make threats, often threaten arrest or deportation, or they say they’ll take away your driver’s or professional license if you don’t pay. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests, sometimes through “robo-calls.” Emails will often contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or email address.
  • IRS Tax Scams spoof caller ID. Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use online resources to get your name, address and other details about your life to make the call sound official.
  • Scams use phishing email and regular mail. IRS Tax Scam scammers copy official IRS letterhead to use in email or regular mail they send to victims. In another new variation, scammers provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. This makes the scheme look official.

The real IRS will never do the following:

  • The IRS will not call you about your tax bill without first sending you a bill in the mail.
  • The IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss tax debts or refunds with taxpayers.
  • Demand immediate payment of taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount that you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, pay with a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Ever threaten to bring in police, immigration or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
  • Try to threaten you with a lawsuit or deportation..
  • Threaten to revoke a driver’s license or business license or immigration status.

How the real IRS initiates contact:

  • The IRS initiates most contacts with taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as:
    • When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill,
    • To secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment,
    • To tour a business, for example, as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.
  • Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive a letter or sometimes more than one letter, often called notices, from the IRS in the mail.  You will know it is a n IRS Tax Scam if the IRS varies from these processes.

What to do:

  • If you suspect an IRS Tax Scam, do not provide any information to the caller. Hang up immediately and do not admit them into your home or business.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the incident.
  • You should also report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.