The first six scams of this year’s IRS Dirty Dozen

Every year the IRS warns taxpayers about scams with their twelve top scams in its “Dirty Dozen” list.  These scams are often aggressive and happen throughout the year.  Everyone should be aware of these scams to avoid their terrible consequences.

These scams should be reported to the IRS.  If you encounter one of these scams go to the IRS website and look for “Tax Scams How to Report Them.”

Phishing:  Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information.  The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers by email about a bill or tax refund.  Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS.

Phone Scams:  Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers.  The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with things like police arrest, deportation, and license revocation.

Identity Theft:  Taxpayers should be alert all year long to tactics aimed at stealing their identities.  The IRS, working in conjunction with the Security Summit partnership of state tax agencies and the tax industry, has made major improvements in detecting tax return related identity theft during the last several years.  The agency reminds taxpayers that they can help in preventing this crime.  The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using someone else’s Social Security number.

Return Preparer Fraud:  Taxpayers should be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers.  The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service.  However, there are some dishonest preparers who operate to scam clients.  These unscrupulous preparers perpetuate refund fraud, identity theft, and other scams that hurt taxpayers.

Inflated Refund Claims:  Taxpayers should take note of anyone promising inflated tax refunds.  Those preparers who ask clients to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at taxpayer records or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund are probably up to no good.  To find victims, fraudsters may use flyers, phony storefronts or word of mouth through community groups where trust is high.

Falsifying Income to Claim Credits:  Con artists may convince unsuspecting taxpayers to invent income to erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as the earned income tax credit.  This is important now for taxpayers who filed an extension of more time to file their taxes.  No matter what time of the year, taxpayers should file the most accurate tax return possible because they are legally responsible for what is on their return.  This scam can lead to taxpayers facing large bills to pay back taxes, interest, and penalties.


David Zubler is the author of three books and a philanthropist.  All of his proceeds from the books go to a charitable foundation he created for underprivileged children.  He is also the founder of Your Tax Care which provides tax education.