Alert: IRS Tax Scam
Mar. 7, 2018 Article

Alert: IRS Tax Scam


Receiving unexpected calls or letters from the IRS no doubt causes a bit of trepidation. Scammers count on our fear of ignoring the IRS. So, beware before taking that call, clicking that link or answering that door.  

According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. These scams can come in many forms – regular mail, telephone, email and even appear at your door. Regardless of the approach, the objective is the same. Get you to drop your guard and provide them with information so they can steal from you.  

So, how do you know it’s really the IRS trying to contact you?

While there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come directly to you, it will typically be when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or employment tax payment. They may also tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigations.  

In these cases, taxpayers will generally first receive several notices from the IRS through regular mail before they ever appear in person. 

It’s important to note that the IRS WILL NOT do the following1:

  • 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 taxpayer.2
  • 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.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you are visited by someone stating they are from the IRS, they will always provide you with these two forms of identification:

  1. Office credentials called a “’pocket commission”3
  2. A HSPD-12 card.

You should always ask for these two items and you may also want to consider contacting the IRS directly to verify and confirm their identification. 

Remember, scams take many shapes and forms and IRS impersonators use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill or handing over personal information. They may even threaten to arrest their would-be victim if the victim doesn’t comply. Know that this is not how the IRS does business.

For more information regarding how to avoid being a victim of a tax scam, visit these IRS resources:

IRS Tax Scams Video Alert 

For a comprehensive listing of recent tax scams and consumer alerts, visit Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.5

Know Who to Contact

  • A great place to start is your wealth advisor. Our advisors have experience and can help you decide on the appropriate next steps.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.6
  • Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.7
  • 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 at

In this piece, the views expressed are for commentary purposes only and do not take into account any individual personal, financial or tax considerations. It is not intended to be personal legal or investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any security or engage in a particular investment strategy.

Mariner Wealth Advisors, LLC (“MWA”) is an SEC registered investment adviser with its principal place of business in the State of Kansas. Registration of an investment advisor does not imply any level of skill or training. MWA and its representatives are in compliance with the current registration and notice filing requirements imposed upon registered investment advisers by those states in which MWA maintains clients. MWA may only transact business in those states in which it is notice filed, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from notice filing requirements. Any subsequent, direct communication by MWA with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. For additional information about MWA, including fees and services, send for our disclosure statement as set forth on Form ADV using the contact information herein or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money.