Tax Tip Tuesday: Beware of Potential Tax Scams

Feb 27, 2024

By Jeffrey R. Wolfe, Senior Vice President and Manager, Wealth Planning Strategies
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As the digital age continues to expand with things like artificial intelligence, scammers are getting better at taking people’s money. In the tax world, the IRS continues to publish warnings for taxpayers about the multiple tax scams attempting to gain access to personal information, steal tax refunds or rip off individuals. The IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen” of tax scams, which you can review here. Some of the prominent techniques garnering attention are:

  • Text Scams & Phishing: The IRS warns that especially during tax season scammers target people with realistic-looking emails and texts about tax returns and refunds. The texts often contain links to phony IRS websites. Specifically, “spear phishing” is on the rise, which is a trick using the IRS logo and a variety of subject lines such as “Action Required: Your account has now been put on hold.” The IRS has observed similar bogus emails that claim to be from a “tax preparation application provider.” One such variation offers an “unusual activity report” and a solution link for recipients to restore their account. Tax preparers are also becoming targets, with scammers trying to pose as new clients so they can hack into the tax preparer’s system to gain client data.These scams attempt to gather your private information or maybe even to file a false return to gain your refund. The IRS specifically states that it will NEVER initiate contact with a taxpayer regarding a tax bill or refund via text or email. If you use a tax preparer, ask about security procedures that protect your information. Remember, if you receive unsolicited digital contact, it’s likely a scam. Don’t click on unknown links, and review the email address to make sure it’s accurate.
  • Phone Scams: While less tech-savvy than other techniques, phone calls continue to be a common form used by scammers. Typically, these scams involve fraudsters calling taxpayers over the phone and impersonating the IRS. Often these calls target elderly taxpayers or those who may have English as a second language. The calls are often aggressive, threatening big fines, jail time or even deportation unless an immediate payment is made via gift cards, debit cards or wire transfers. A newer technique is to offer to help you create your online IRS account. The IRS reminds us that it will not make initial contact over the phone, and opening your online account is very simple by going to Online Account at The IRS also states it will never ask for payment via these untraditional methods, nor will it threaten immediate criminal charges.

The IRS is asking for your help to stop these scammers. It asks that if you receive a suspected fraudulent message that you, the taxpayer, should take a screenshot of the message and include the screenshot in an email to with the following information:

  • Date/time/time zone they received the message
  • Phone number that received the text message

The IRS also offers suggestions and resources to help you as well. It recommends the following precautionary steps:

  • Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don’t leave it lying around.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong and varied passwords, and make sure your tax preparer has similar protections.

There are recommended links to review as well. To learn additional steps you can take to protect your personal and financial data, visit Taxes. Security. Together.

If you are getting a refund, make sure you get it! Remain diligent when managing your tax preparations, and if something seems “phishy” from the IRS, trust your instincts and question what’s going on to help avoid being scammed.


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES: The information provided is based on internal and external sources that are considered reliable; however, the accuracy of this information is not guaranteed. This piece is intended to provide accurate information regarding the subject matter discussed. It is made available with the understanding that Benjamin F. Edwards is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or tax preparation services. Specific questions on taxes or legal matters as they relate to your individual situation should be directed to your tax or legal professional.