IRS audits can be scary. But if you don’t know how the agency conducts them, it’s hard to know if they’re legitimate. As the IRS issued its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams of 2020, it’s in your best interest to make sure you’re not falling victim to criminal acts.
The IRS has limited ways of conducting audits
If the agency contacts you, they’ll either send you mail, come to your house or give you an under reporter inquiry, a notice for missing W2 or 1099 information on your return. The IRS only contacts people about audits using these methods. If you receive any other type of audit notification, it’s most likely a scam.
Criminals may use deceptive tactics masked as auditing
As the pandemic creates economic turmoil, scammers are using this opportunity to take advantage of people’s fears. Here are a few ways they may do this:
- Emails/fake websites: The IRS will only ever send you written notices in the mail. Unfortunately, some criminals will set up phishing scams with phony email messages and links to scamming websites. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, it’s likely not legitimate.
- Make threats with no explanation: An IRS agent will not threaten to arrest you if they visit your home or business. IRS agents also won’t threaten to take your driver’s or business license away. If they do show up at your home, an IRS agent will provide you with several documents beforehand and present you with the appropriate credentials.
- Demand you make payments to specific places: Scammers may try and tell you that you must enter in specific information and make payments to various unknown entities. However,the IRS will only request you make payments to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Scammers may try getting information from phone calls as well. However, you should know the IRS will only call you after trying to contact you by mail first. A tax law professional can help you understand whether your audit is legitimate or not and guide you toward the appropriate action.