June 28, 2016

Another day, another Phone Tax Scam?

Confusion Leads to IRS Policy Modifications

The IRS actively works to make taxpayers aware of potential scams, and even publishes an annual “Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams” during tax season. One major message they convey is that the IRS never contacts taxpayers regarding tax bills via telephone as the first means of communication.

Being recently made aware of concerns voiced at public forums sponsored by the Taxpayer Advocate Service, the IRS has modified its policy regarding audit protocol. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has stressed repeatedly that the IRS never calls first. In fact, Commissioner Koskinen’s pledge was related to scammers and would-be identity thieves who call taxpayers threatening fines and other consequences of not sending money to settle tax debts. The IRS has, in fact, made initial contact to taxpayers or their representatives by phone to schedule an appointment to begin a tax audit.

According to a statement the agency issued in May, the IRS will now notify taxpayers who are subject to a field exam (audit) first by letter and follow up with a telephone call. The IRS said it typically, but not always, previously notified taxpayers first by letter, but this will now become standard procedure. The IRS did not specify whether or how it may modify its February 11 Internal Revenue Manual sections that instructed revenue agents to call taxpayers first.

In short, payment demands are not audit notifications. Regardless, the IRS says both will now be communicated first via written communication to the taxpayer. As always, if you are contacted by the IRS through any means, we at Maddox Thomson are here to help guide you through it.