I apologize for the title of this blog. But, it was the only (relatively clean) expression I could use after seeing this document.
For decades, I’ve been warning our clients that the IRS doesn’t make a phone call to initiate an audit. So, all those “Mr. Smith, this is the Internal Revenue Service” calls are purely scams. Don’t answer them. If you feel inclined (I certainly do), use all your epithets to notify the caller they are unwelcome. What can they do? Call the police and say they were attempting to rob your money and you retaliated with the 7 naughty words? Yeah, I thought you’d figure that out, too.
But, this letter that came in the mail to (someone) was scary as hell. If you don’t deal with the IRS all the time, you would think it’s real. Because it really comes close. The closest I’ve ever seen one of these scams.
But, there are a few tell-tale giveaways. The first tell is they ask you to make payment to the “I.R.S.”. That is a guaranteed no-no. For years, the IRS (and we) have been telling you to make your checks payable to the US Treasury or the Internal Revenue Service. Because the IRS found out years ago they had a few unscrupulous employees who were changing that IRS to MRS (john Doe, Susie Smith, etc.) and cashing taxpayers’ checks. So, they sent out advisories to never address a check in that fashion.
The other simple giveaway is that the IRS has never told a taxpayer to pay first and complain second. The IRS will listen (but not necessarily agree) to a taxpayer’s (or tax professional’s) reasoning why the bill the IRS proposed is wrong. (Or, sometimes, simply ludicrous.) Once they review your reasoning, they will notify you they’ve accepted your logic, they’ve agreed in part (and will still want some cash from you), or they find your logic lacking (as if you were a certain person running for President) and will now demand payment from you.
However, the only time you get a letter from the IRS that says pay now (whether you agree or not) is when they have provided you with a lien- against your house, against your bank account, or against everything you and your spouse own.
The other errors are in this letter are:
- The incorrect address for the IRS. But, that’s something only your tax professional will readily perceive.
- The “send us your payment as soon as possible…” The IRS ALWAYS has a deadline for payment. Because ‘as soon as possible’ could be three years from now, if you are little short of cash, right?
- The “tax year ending 12-2015”. The IRS always includes the full date or just the calendar year.
- There is no explanation for why there was a change. I’m not saying you will understand the change, but they always make sure you now there was a change in something- so you can properly address the issue (or not).
So, here’s a deal we are offering all of my blog readers. If you get a letter from the (US) Internal Revenue Service and are not sure if it’s legit, scan the WHOLE letter. Nothing omitted. And, send that scan to IRSFraud AT (use the “@” symbol) adjuvancy.com.
We’ll let you know if you’ve been had or you’ve been bad. For free!
Hot off the press. This afternoon, the IRS sent around this notice- about this very piece of mail! The link came on Friday.