The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its Security Summit partners have released a warning about a new variation on phone scams by which criminals prey on taxpayers. Scammers are now using telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to try to trick victims into paying non-existent tax bills. Remember that IRS employees at these centers do not make calls to taxpayers to demand payment; such requests are typically initiated through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is keeping tax-related identity theft on its "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams to watch for in 2018, despite a significant decline in this type of crime in recent years. Tax-related identity theft is the act of using a stolen taxpayer identification number to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund. In 2017, the IRS received 242,000 reports of identity theft, compared to 401,000 reports in 2016. This is due in part to the Security Summit partnership, launched in 2015, which has enacted various safeguards to prevent tax-related crimes. However, identity theft remains on the IRS' list of most common tax-related crimes. To read suggestions to protect yourself and your business from identity theft, click here.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) kicked off its annual "Dirty Dozen" awareness campaign about common tax scams for 2018 with a reminder that phishing schemes are still a serious threat to personal information safety, and are evolving. The most recent variation on phishing (previously described here) involves an unexpected deposit into the bank account of a target. Criminals are filing fraudulent tax returns, and directing refunds to be deposited into real bank accounts of victims. The criminals then call the victim who received the deposit and demand the return of the funds as erroneous.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has failed to notify the majority of individuals they found to be victims of employment identity theft. When an identity thief uses another individual's information to obtain employment, the victim may have taxes computed based on income they did not personally earn, and may experience other difficulties. The IRS has a computer-based process to notify victims of the issue, but due to a programming error related to a decision to notify only newly identified victims, the IRS failed to notify over 450,000 individuals for processing year 2017. In addition, over 15,000 individuals who did receive notice (13.5 percent of the total group notified) were not actually victims of employment identity theft.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its Semiannual Report to Congress for the period April 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. TIGTA provides oversight for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) activities and Federal tax administration. During the most recent period, TIGTA conducted 61 audits and over 1,400 investigations into issues involving tax fraud, identity theft, and other taxpayer-related issues.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently audited the Sustaining Infrastructure Program of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and found that, since 2013, the percentage of information technology hardware the IRS is using that is beyond its useful life has increased from 40% to its current rate of 64%. Aged hardware is more likely to fail, negatively impacting employee productivity, information security, and customer service.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning about possible fake charity scams related to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Taxpayers should be sure the charities they want to support are recognized by the government to accept donations. Don't let your compassion get the best of you - be careful who you send your money and information. The IRS offers the following tips to help you protect your interests while also supporting causes you care about:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has just obtained specialized software for identifying users of bitcoins and other virtual currency. According to a work contract obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Daily Beast, the IRS hopes to use this software "to identify and obtain evidence on individuals using bitcoin to either laundry money or conceal income as part of tax fraud or other Federal crimes."
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a warning to tax professionals to be alert to a new e-mail scam that impersonates tax software providers and attempts to steal usernames and passwords. Recipients of these e-mails are told that, due to a recent software upgrade, the tax preparer must revalidate their login credentials. It provides a link to a fictitious website that mirrors the software provider's actual login page. However, instead of upgrading software, the tax professionals are providing their information to cybercriminals who use the stolen credentials to access the preparers' accounts and steal client information.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as part of the Security Summit, is urging tax professionals to stay vigilant with regard to a variety of e-mail scams and "spear phishing" that aim to steal personal information about clients and companies. Between January and May 2017, some 177 tax professionals or firms reported data thefts involving thousands of clients' information.