Many taxpayers have encountered individuals
impersonating IRS officials – in person, over the telephone and via email. Don’t get scammed. 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, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part
of an audit or during criminal investigations.
Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive
several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail.
that the IRS does not:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a
bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a
- Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s
license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
The IRS instructs taxpayers to make payments to the
“United States Treasury.” The IRS provides specific guidelines on how you can make a tax payment at irs.gov/payments.
is what the IRS will do:
If an IRS representative visits you, he or she will
always provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. HSPD-12 is a government-wide standard for secure and
reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to see these credentials. And if you would like to verify information on the representative’s HSPD-12 card,
the representative will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the information and confirming their identity.
IRS collection employees may call or come to a home
or business unannounced to collect a tax debt. They will not demand that you make an immediate payment to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
Learn more about the IRS revenue officers’ collection work.
The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt
collectors but only after giving the taxpayer and his or her representative, if one is appointed, written notice. Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card or gift
card. Taxpayers can learn about the IRS payment options on IRS.gov/payments. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency.
Learn more about how to know if it’s really an
IRS Private Debt Collector.
IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to
set up appointments or to discuss items with the taxpayers, but not without having first attempted to notify them by mail. After mailing an official notification of an audit, an auditor/tax examiner
may call to discuss items pertaining to the audit.
Learn more about the IRS audit process.
IRS criminal investigators 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 sort of payment.
Learn more about the What Criminal Investigation Does and How Criminal Investigations are Initiated.
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 doesn’t comply.
For a comprehensive listing of recent tax scams and
consumer alerts, visit Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.
Who to Contact
- Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also
- Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
- Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS