A Soldier’s Guide to Avoiding and Dealing with Common Legal Problems: Tax Scams

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In an April 2016 publication, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a warning that scammers may prey on hard-working taxpayers by impersonating the IRS.  The IRS urged taxpayers to be diligent in protecting themselves.  The military community is not immune to the criminal tactics used by scammers to defraud taxpayers out of their money.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has reported that it is aware of over 5,000 victims who have collectively paid over $26.5 million since October 2013 as a result of tax scams.  To counter the criminal activities of tax scammers, the TIGTA and IRS launched an awareness campaign to educate and inform citizens.  TIGTA has reported a decline in tax scams over the past few months as a result of the awareness campaign.

You can join the efforts to counter tax scamming and avoid being a victim by following these safeguards that are provided by the IRS:

• Beware of unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials

• Never reply to emails, texts or pop-up messages asking for your personal, tax or financial information

• The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment over the phone

The IRS will never threaten to immediately bring in law enforcement to have you ar rested for not paying

The IRS will never require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card

• The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone

• Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights when dealing with the IRS

If you receive a letter through regular mail from someone claiming to be from the

IRS and you suspect the person is not from the IRS or you do not believe you owe taxes, go to the IRS home page at https://www.irs.gov/ and search for the letter.  Scammers often modify legitimate IRS letters.  If the letter is legitimate, the IRS website will provide instructions on how to respond to the letter.  If you do not information regarding your letter or if the instructions on the IRS website does not match the information on your letter, call 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the letter is legitimate.  If the letter is determined to not be legitimate, you may report the incident to TIGTA at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml and to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Don’t be a victim of tax scamming.  Guard your personal data and banking information and always confirm an alleged debt before you decide to make a payment.  If you are unsure about how to handle a debt, alleged or legitimate, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office.  A Legal Assistance attorney will assist you with responding to the debt and may also correspond with the debt collector on your behalf.  Legal assistance is completely confidential.  To schedule an appointment, call (760)-380-5321.  The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 0900 – 1600, Thursdays, 1300 – 1600.  The Office is located in Building 230.