It’s April 15th — tax filing deadline day! From where I sit, there are only a couple more hours left to file your federal income tax return. Today I should be writing about (and you should be reading about) procrastination, how to file an extension, what to do if you owe taxes and can’t pay, or various IRS statistics like how many returns have been filed, how many refunds have been issued, how much the IRS has paid out in refunds, etc. Before the age of electronic filing, we used to see the obligatory TV news story about which post offices were open late and which ones had the longest lines. But gone are the days of such innocent tax day topics. Today I’m mostly seeing warnings about those pervasive telephone tax scams.
For as long as I can remember, the IRS has warned taxpayers of phony IRS calls, but it seems like it used to be an annual warning that came out in the “Tax Tips” series. And it always seemed more like a theoretical problem with some anecdotal evidence here and there. Today, however, these phone scams have become commonplace. It doesn’t seem to matter where you live either; I’ve seen reports of phone scams all across the country. And I’ve handled my share of calls from local taxpayers who have been scared out of their minds by phony IRS calls. In Sacramento, some victims are being told that they are going to be arrested for tax fraud. These scam artists are apparently very convincing. Sometimes people who don’t even owe (and know that they don’t owe) are tricked into believing that they are in trouble with the IRS.
The IRS is very clear about what type of contact they initiate with taxpayers, and if you become familiar with the standard IRS warnings, you’ll never be fooled by a tax scam.