Every tax season the IRS warns taxpayers of tax-time scams and how to avoid them. The IRS says that “tax scams proliferate during the income tax filing season.” This year the filing season begins January 31st. I hope taxpayers take this to heart, but I also hope that they remain vigilant throughout the entire year.
People often ask me if business picks up during tax time, and I usually explain that the IRS’ collection machine runs 24/7 and 365 days per year. The IRS Collections Department doesn’t really have a “season” so to speak; they work year-round. We do tend to get more phone calls during the first few months of the year, but this is due to the fact that the tax season is when people tend to think more about their tax issues. The thought of having to file income taxes again naturally leads to the next thought of having to do something about the prior tax years and tax debts already on the books.
I suppose that a similar phenomenon occurs with tax scammers. They definitely do their dirty work around the clock and any time of the year. But they know that they will have more success during the income tax filing season. Poor, unsuspecting taxpayers are just more likely to pick up the phone, divulge confidential information, and open spammy emails during this time of year.
The common-sense advice that the IRS gives each year can be summarized as follows: Don’t give out your personal information such as passwords, PINs, credit card or bank info via emails or over the phone. This is not how the IRS operates, and if you do get a phone or email request for such information, it is probably a scam.