Blog By: Coleman Jackson, PC
Immigration & Tax Law Firm
Firm Site www.cjacksonlaw.com
October 31, 2013
Today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned of an insidious, sophisticated telephone tax scam targeting consumers (immigrants and recent arrivals to the United States may be particularly besieged), throughout the United States. The IRS described the fraudulent activities in Issue Number: IR-2013-84 as follows:
“Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.”
The IRS further described the current tax scam as follows:
“Other characteristics of this scam include:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.”
Immigrants are particularly vulnerable. They are in a new land and may be very unfamiliar with the tax laws, tax collection practices and taxing policies of the federal, state and local government. They may not even be familiar with all of the various taxing authorities. Immigrants must be especially vigilant and on the alert for tax scams. But they also must be aware that, in the United States, there are various governmental units who might be charged with assessing and collecting various types of legitimate taxes. Every communication that may be received concerning a tax issue is not a scam.
Taxing authorities do not ask for personal information such as social security numbers, banking account information and other personal data over the phone, through social media or via tech messaging or instant messaging or through electronic mail to taxpayers. If you receive communications through these media you should immediately be on high tax alert. It would be very unusual for either the federal, state or local government to ask for personal confidential information through these media. Government correspondence will typically be mailed to you using the United States Postal Service. The mail will typically be sent to your last known residential address or business address. If the mail is received anywhere else or otherwise looks suspicious, be on high tax alert. If you receive information requests through these types of media or other suspicious circumstances, you should be extremely careful. Consider these guidelines:
- Never give out personal information, such as, your social security number, or bank account details in response to telephone request, emails, texts or social media requests;
- Never agree to meet with the caller in person at the instruction of the caller;
- Never pay an alleged tax debt with cash at the instruction of the caller;
- Never wire transfer any money to the caller or by instruction of the caller;
- Never turn over anything else of value to the caller or anyone else as instructed by the caller;
- Contact directly the federal, state or local governmental authorities and report the incident-
- Federal Tax Issues—call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484;
- State Tax Issues— in Texas, call the Texas Comptroller’s Office at 1-800-252-5555 (Sales & Use Tax Issues) or 1-800-252-1381 for (Franchise Tax Issues);
- Local Tax Issues— call your city or county tax collector; in Dallas County call 1-214-653-7811. Call the county tax office where you reside with any questions regarding local tax issues, such as, property taxes.
If you are still confused after contacting the federal, state or local governmental authorities or you just don’t know what to do, contact a tax attorney. You might also be able to get some guidance from local non-profit organizations, churches and other institutions. Some area law schools may have tax clinics available for immigrant taxpayers.
Bottom line, as an immigrant taxpayer in America, you do not have to suffer tax harassment in silence or under individual or community siege. Reach out as we have outlined above to seek help when you suspect that you, your family or community are victims of tax scams.
This blog is written to inform and for educational purposes only. It is not given as legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. You should consult an attorney for any particular matter pertaining to your facts and circumstances.
COLEMAN JACKSON, P.C.
Immigration & Tax Law Firm
6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 443
Dallas, Texas 75206
Office Phone: (214) 599-0431 (English) (214) 599-0432 (Spanish)