Many tax payers have encountered individuals impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials in person, over the telephone and via email. We want you to understand how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers, and help you determine whether a contact you may have received is truly from an IRS employee.
The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail, delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business.
Circumstances In Which an IRS Employee Will Call Or Visit a Person
- When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill.
- To secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment.
- To tour a business as part of an audit during a criminal investigation.
Even then, tax payers will generally first receive several letters, called notices, from the IRS in the mail.
What to Look Out For
Threats like these are common tactics that scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
- The IRS does not call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a pre-paid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- They will not demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. As a taxpayer, you are always awarded the right to do so.
- The IRS will not threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
- The IRS can also not revoke your drivers license, business licenses or immigration statuses.
What The IRS Will Do
In the event that you are legimitely contacted by an IRS employee, here’s what you can expect.
- He or she will always provide two forms of official credentials — called a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card. The HSPD-12 is a standardized federal identity credential that is designed to enhance security, reduce identity fraud and protect the personal privacy of those it is issued to. You have the right to see these credentials.
- If you’d like to verify information on the representatives card, the representative will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying information and confirming their identity.
IRS criminal investigations may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any source of payment.
Beware of impersonations. Scams take many shapes and forms, such as phone calls, letters and emails. Many IRS impersonators use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill. They may even threaten to arrest or deport their would-be victim if the victim does not comply.